Soldiers on holiday fill the outdoor café.
A young man has just jumped off the old bridge
for their money, on his chest a tattoo
of their leader, a hero hired by heroes.
These men are the same age as I am
but theirs is the age of the native-born,
drawn on their handsome faces with a dark pen.
Peasants, mechanics, farmers—I would not dare
to call them brothers. One winks. Some stare.
I pretend to look at the river.
How war makes borders glamorous,
our time brief and historic!
But this is not war, just the face of war;
not love, just faces of lovers.
Love could launch Mostar’s minarets—
love, or war—though language stops us here:
dawdling at the river’s edge
where history whispers in each soldier’s ear.
(First appeared in Agni Review.