1989 | A. S. Kresnak

I saw a piece of Berlin’s border wall
behind a velvet rope, on full display
and spotlight-lit. These are the last remains
of cold war fear, defiance, lonely dreams,
and lastly, this: on one November night,
the people gathered, flooding through the gates.
They weren’t held back. In fact, the other side
raised open arms to help them cross the line.
This was a day the world would celebrate.
They would make heroes of the refugees,
asylum-seekers, dreamers, emigrants,
those tearing pieces of the barricade
as souvenirs of freedom from that place.
Who built the wall? I’ll ask you this: who cares?
We’ve seen the way these countries operate.
The ending of the border came so fast
I’ve learned that walls like this can never last.


Writer’s Commentary

I had a class on immigration in Europe. The teacher showed us documentaries on migration, from WWII to the Cold War to the modern-day refugee crises. I was struck by how similar the stories were even as decades passed. Living in America right now, I’m finding hope in history: it shows us that there is always something that we can do, no matter how dark the circumstances seem. This poem expresses my hope.


A.S. Kresnak is a college freshman currently exploring their new state. Their favorite historical period is the Cold War.

They can be found on Twitter @askresnak.