Jennifer Wheelock

The Wall in the Head

“The wall in the head is still there.”

Tom Synnatzschke, on a species of deer in Germany that won’t cross the border where the

Iron Curtain once stood, though it has been gone 20 years.


Blocked by nothing—

no fence or fiery wire—

the red doe stops

at the border where

the Berlin Wall

fell twenty years ago.

Watch her look

and turn, as though

a wall of glass stands

in her way.

Scarf of scruff,

winter coat flecked

with snowy spots,

she turns back

to the trail

on the side she knows.

High above, a woodpecker,

like a distant machine gun,

disturbs the peace,

and the doe’s ears

twitch. She is all

collective memory,

worn path, stubborn

to stay

in the old


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