Half a Phantom

With your hair, your skin, and your eyes, you ought to be a phantom.

You appear and disappear every day on a street where you aren’t, eluding legions of real blue-bodied people. With your language, you’re silent. You reach the ultimate depth and then let yourself vanish. Under a blue-bodied sky your lonely voice is profane.

You’re afraid now, and with reason. Because you’re homeless? No. Because you’re suffering? No. You’ve already fled so far that you can’t help adding to the fire. How else could you stomach refugee camp life? Yet who is to blame if you’re unhappy? If you want to flee further, then flee from humanity. Flee from life. Wouldn’t that make you safe? To a phantom fleeing from blue-blooded humanity, don’t the drummers at the funeral seem a welcoming party? But you’re even more afraid that you won’t be a whole phantom. Death isn’t perfect either. You’re only a half, walking sideways in the wind. And the other half is the loathing you feel for your own coughing body.

The past is the only place where, at last, nothing new can happen. Still, you honestly think you should add something to the past. The day the wall fell, all the phantoms rushed out. As all those escaping phantoms fled toward you, who could have known that hiding in the midst of the mad cries for help was that blue-bodied one? Who could have understood that time works like a shaman? The price we pay for human evolution is learning to slaughter. Even more cruelly, we practise our forgetting. If, when the cheering is over, this world in a sky-blue shirt can openly emit such a rotten smell, wouldn’t staying trapped forever in the tomb better suit the tragic truth?

But what about the blood? Blood of those who climbed the wall. Blood of those who broke out of jail. The half phantom merely flees in a prolonged burst of gunfire. You know others are fleeing, too. When blood flows, it turns everyone into a refugee from doomsday, appearing and disappearing on a street where you aren’t. When you don’t exist, you’re everywhere. So it is, even for those who are unbearably blue. You are not afraid – if misery also has a "motherland", just leave "the motherland" to them.

Berlin, 15 October 1991