Morgan Meis at Slant Books:
My cat died in Germany once. In Cologne. I remember the city being very ugly and the famous cathedral being so black, completely covered in soot. I’m not against ugly cities and truth be told I rather enjoy them. Cities should be ugly. Of course, that’s an absurd thing to say. There’s nothing more lovely than a lovely city. I was reminded of this recently when I traveled from Berlin to Paris. Berlin is so ugly and Paris is so beautiful. Whatever doubts I might have had that Berlin is just really ugly, my father squashed them for me on a brief visit to the city while I was staying there. We were walking through the city, making our way from the Motel One he was staying at on Alexanderplatz to the little Airbnb where I was living in Prenzlauerberg with my old and assiduous friend Stevie and I was watching my father move ever so slowly through the not-so-interesting streets that connect the two neighborhoods and as we stopped at the second or third cafe for him to catch his breath and take a rest I realized that he is genuinely elderly now. It’s an indistinct threshold, being old. But he has become old. That is what happens, of course. There is no shame in it. Will Germany kill my father, just as it killed my cat, I wondered to myself. It was hot in Berlin that week. We should have taken the U-Bahn or even a cab. But I wanted to walk with my aging father through the streets of Berlin. I was feeling tenderly toward him, even though I, and simultaneously Berlin itself, were both trying to kill him.