Rhine wine glows above white linen, sparkling silverware.
Multiple courses, soup, salad, symmetrically separated by butter pats,
crusty rolls. Rouladen, the main course, within each serving lies hidden
a sweet pickle, so much polite chatter, too,
between people who scarcely know one another.
How welcome this respite from earnest travel,
leaving little behind except a trail of crumbs, bits of sweet bacon
the wait staff will dispose of.
Their aprons whisper Haus Sanssouci,
but tasteful, spotless, everyone
observing rules that codify civility.
Strudel, hot from the oven, makes the firmest
ice cream melt in pools. No smoking,
though steam from coffee, like spirits, rises above our heads.
Next door, beyond stripes of pachysandra, hostas,
the hidden path to the lake, resident ghosts
escape their dining room, take the fresh air,
stretch cramped legs, walk the lidded groves
around the blind eye of the Wannsee.
So much to hammer out, annotate,
for a task complex, nuanced.
Considerations of schedules, rolling stock,
locomotion, the trigonometry of transport.
Commodities delivered on time to separate destinations.
Within an iron net cast wider than ever before.