No Man's Land
The younger people did not notice any signs.
The old were saying all along there would be war,
the signs were everywhere:
a wagon of money could buy so little,
the lice appeared out of nowhere and spread like wildfire,
the women were giving birth to sons
to make up for the men that would vanish;
the fruit-trees so fertile, their branches touching
the ground under the weight of fruit
as if someone whispered to their roots this was last
to bear life before death with devastation comes.
Their beds were still warm
when one man, a child and a woman
left their home. They locked the door
- an ordinary thing to do,
as if casually leaving,
as if there were no war and
they would soon be back home.
Running to save their lives, they did not know
they were running from their lives.
Shall we tell them this was a moment of irreversible
change? Stop them while they are still standing
in front of the door and scream: “Wait,
wait and think again whether you really want to go!”
The distance of time would muffle our voices.
The girl carries her school back-pack
with a big clock on it. Many times they all laughed
watching the cat stalk the second hand,
measure the distance and then jump
to catch her prey. It was only a game.
In April of 1992, in Sarajevo - nothing was a game.
Death was screaming from above,
the birds frightened not knowing where to go.
In the empty space between two forced borders
within the same city,
like a glacier, heavy and cold,
a silence lay
deep in it, with the eyes of vultures,
the snipers prey.
Too late to turn back.
The three stepped into danger,
featherless birds out in the open.
“Be casual, do not run, show no fear.
Walk straight, the other side is only 30 meters away.”
Were the snipers measuring their steps,
deciding at what particular place they would stop
their walk, and who would go first?
Whose blood would satisfy them most?
Their feet are heavy,
crossing no man’s land is like walking on the mine fields.
What if those hidden hands are playing Russian Roulette?
The woman’s hand sweats holding her daughter’s hand.
Who or what saved them that April morning?
The girl’s pale face or a new life in the woman’s womb?
They crossed from the “East” to the “West”
and further away they went.
The woman gave birth to a son whose reason to come
was to save his family. Having fulfilled his mission,
he rested on earth for 36 hours,
then returned to the unknown place he came from.
The man, child and the woman never came back to unlock their home.