Berlin Pastoral

This is the story of Uschi, Susi and Tom who live peacefully on a balcony in Berlin. When a baby comes along, their idyllic relationship in a very small space is threatened but using cunning and creativity, they make do. First published by Fatboy Review now re-issued for this mobile format. I'm working on a German translation to be published here, too. This story will only be online for a while as a teaser for the publication of my collection of short stories by MadHat Press |


3. The Poet


Tom is a poet. The earnings from his art supported them all. It works like this: Uschi stitches his short poems on tee-shirts. Susi takes them to the landlord, who gives them money and food and lets them live on his balcony. They never wondered how it is possible that a few words every day feed an entire family of four.

What none of them knows is that Tom’s little poems are world-famous. He and his identity are fancied as one of the last secrets of the intellectual world-elite, even more elusive than the crazy Russian mathematical genius whose face nobody has ever seen because he hides it behind a voluminous beard. Tom is clean-shaven and if he’s got any fault it is that, for a genius, he looks and dresses like any other citizen.

Tom still holds and rocks the baby, who is bubbling opaque words. Whatever Tom hears, he turns into writing. He prefers the mumbling newborn to a lecture given by a well-informed grown-up. Many of his texts begin their life as transcriptions of overheard conversations between people walking down the street below their balcony. The three of them sail through the craggy city canyons like a pirate crew.

Uschi strokes Tom’s hairless head. Now they look like a real family, Susi thinks, feeling love and longing to be touched.

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