Look from the bridge down into the black waters
where, corroded, rest the sunken barges.
A riddled sapper never set the charges:
the cry of birches is a wife’s or daughter’s.
Ilya Ehrenburg had opened the locks
in January nineteen-forty-five.
Mute as the dead are the raped left alive.
Now only splendid architecture talks.
The skeletons of quays rust in the spring,
their wooden floor beds long since warped and rotten.
Thorn and thistle prosper on the shore.
The opening ceremony with Hess forgotten,
the hammer and the sickle crush and sting
like history writ by those who won the war.
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