Two poems from Bosnia
Journey to Sarajevo
After the first time
I never made that journey again by day
And longed that the landscape
Had remained a mystery.
But, even in the dark I still knew
That the black hollow beyond the window
Was filled with row upon row
Of blackened houses,
Windowless, hollow-eyed, gaunt.
Eventually, such villages held no surprises
Except in one, where among the ruins
A line of white, freshly laundered washing
Stired, just a little, as we sped passed.
On later journeys
I would lie on my back
And stare up through the smudged window
Into the night sky
So that it seemed
That it wasn't the bus turning
But the whole galexy above, revolving.
Somewhere, Orion stood defient
The Plough still furrowed the night sky
And a whole myriad of creatures
Somehow found their place
While I, lying on my back,
Thought of the years it took
For the light from the stars
To reach us here.
The slender reed of a minaret
Snugly fills the frame
Of the rectangular window
I look out of once again.
A solitary figure,
Cupped hands, sings
While across the city
A church bell rings
And just for that moment it seems
That the birds fall silent
And the traffic recedes.
Though nothing impedes
The flow of the Miljacka.
Is a city awash with sound
And the echo of a shell
Slamming into a street
Somewhere, way beyond Mount Igman.
Earlier today I stood on Princip’s Bridge
To lob a stone into the shallow river
And now make ripples in my coffee with a spoon.