Mostar Postcard
by Jennifer Rose 

Bosnia–Hercegovina, Yugoslavia, 1982
    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
Copyright © 1991 by Jennifer Rose. All rights reserved.) 


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