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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, November 23, 2018.
About this Poem 

“Peacock Island is a real place: sixty-seven hectares in the middle of the Havel River, just off the western edge of Berlin—after a thirty-second ferry ride you’re there and can hear the peacocks screaming to each other. The island was once given to an alchemist who discovered how to make ruby glass but was shipped off when his lab burned down, and one hundred years later, the island was given to the king’s mistress for her pleasure, and she was shipped off when the king died. The castle, the fountain, and the temple were all designed to look like ruins—the fantasy of ruin—and yet were untouched when World War II's bombs fell. When I first went to Peacock Island I thought, if I can understand this place, I can understand all of the real and imagined history of Western civilization. This place of artifice and hubris snagged me, and since then all my poems have been about Peacock Island.”
—Jennifer Kronovet

Peacock Island

From the island
he saw the castle
 
and from the castle
he saw the island.
 
Some people live
this way—wife/
 
mistress/wife/mistress.
But this story isn’t
 
the one I’m telling.
From the island
 
he saw the castle
and that made him
 
distant from power
and from the castle
 
he saw the island
and that made him distant
 
from imagining
what power can do.
 
The story I’m telling is
the war coming.
 
How can you go from
island to castle to island
 
to castle and not give
birth to a war? No.
 
I still can’t explain it.

Copyright © 2018 by Jennifer Kronovet. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Jennifer Kronovet. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Jennifer Kronovet

Jennifer Kronovet

Jennifer Kronovet is the author of two poetry collections, including, her most recent, The Wug Test (Ecco Press, 2016).

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