Life was simpler then
in innocence in trust
when I walked through the night
a seven year old on the road of flight my mother
pushing the carriage my brother inside
I held on to the hand
of my father
no fear just walking
eyes almost closing
Where were we going?
How much farther?
I could see the stars and
the moon gave us some light
I heard a train whistle blow
coming over the land...
coming around a farm house
between the bushes and trees
out of the shadows into me
I've been riding one ever since...
fingers on maps deciding where the
new borders were to be who was to
govern and what rights people would have...
My mother cried all night
we fell asleep and in the morning
a guard took us back to the border
nothing we could do to persuade him
except that he unofficially said
go further down into the forest
where there are no guards...
My mother pushed the carriage
I walked slowly but intently
we trekked through the forest
no trail seen we stepped over branches and needles
we crossed what we thought
was the barbed wire of the border
and went further west
when west meant a heart felt freedom
for my parents and words for me
later becoming a land where we could
live a life with choices and opportunities...
Only later did I realize
the fear in my mother
the anxiety of my father
telling us to hide
that he would scout ahead
for Russian soldiers or the local police at the border
he left us and my mother
No return after so many hours
alternative plans remembered
travel on and meet in a
town called Hof just over the border
my mother had known fear
and struggle during the war
her strength was felt...
She had risked the gathering of wood
for warmth in the cruel winter of 45
and the hope of getting a few potatoes from the surrounding farmers
in exchange for a knitted sweater...
We walked she pushed my
brother had no idea as we went
through the forest
away from the road until
a barrier a gate
a circumstantial border was seen
erected to keep ideologies separated
with living people and families
again and again becoming the victims...
We went around that barrier
and felt safe so glad to see
a different kind of guard
we were there we had made it
we walked into the freedom that mother father
had thought about and yet suddenly
it was with heavy hearts...
Would we find our father? we wondered
as we were taken to a guard house and
interrogated not allowed to go further and
cruelly told that we had to go back
that we were not allowed to go to the
American side of the divided Germany
out of abstract decisions made
regarding Russian east Germany and American
and British west Germany
Further and further we walked until
houses were seen and a village
emerged and she saw the sign Hof
on a delicatessen
a chance to buy a roll
a feeling of such relief
indescribable for my mother
a story for me to remember...
But there was no father here
not found in the place we were to meet
in sadness and anxiousness
my mother bought tickets
at the train station for the next
meeting place a town called Langen
there was her hope and I must
have felt it with the excitement of
traveling on the train
even with no more money to buy
a roll or an apple
we finally arrived in Langen
walked to the address we had with us
an address from a relative
who had also left Zwickau...
We knocked on the door waited and someone opened it...
who was so joyous
who held my brother tight
who held me forever
who held my mother in tears...
Here is where our lives began again
Our lives now immersed in hope
and the dream to move to
by Rainer Neumann
"Since my retirement I have devoted my life to poetry, pastel drawings and songs. I have had two exhibitions - Cafe Society 2017 and Ebbtide Cafe 2018 and have a current exhibit at HMB Coffee Company. Out of these exhibits I have published two exhibit books as well as a book of pastels produced over a 20 year period - “Fron Pigeon Point to Point Reyes”. Two poetry books - “Intersections of Concern” and “Our time has just begun” have also been published and are available on-line along with three books of fiction and two books of translation - a poetry book and a journal from the second world war.
These works can be seen and purchased on: lulu.com/spotlight/rneumann
During the previous 25 years before retirement, I had a chance to delve into many creative areas – writing novels, watercolor painting, pastel drawing, songwriting, designing furniture/toys etc. While living in Detroit I taught introductory Humanities courses at Wayne County Community College. During this time I also worked on wood cuts, silk screen prints, poetry and songs and was able to bring these into the curriculum when appropriate."