This leaving weighs heavy.
To say farewell in the middle of hello.
Like a mother to her son not yet grown into a man.
Eyes well with tears in places where people don’t cry.
Hiding behind dark glasses.
Or in the deep breath of a cigarette.
Weight like lead tugs on my heart.
Tendrils of images weave around my being.
People met whisper of friendship.
But cruel time does not allow for more than the idea.
And cruel time – plus guns wielded at the commands of madmen
Did not allow for the knowing of a father, the loving of a brother.
You tell me I have inspired you to reclaim the calm within yourself.
I know if I could stay, you would become my dear, dear friend.
We would sit silently when life feels heavy.
We would laugh often.
“Go,” you say. “Go. Before I cry.”
This reads like a summer romance.
But it is only the story of two middle-aged women,
Finding sisterhood across the ocean.
You play the role not of friend,
But rather the crook.
You make your people angry and ashamed.
And before I yield to this theft, I invite you to sit down for a kafa.
You add a cigarette and tell me your bitter story.
You want me to know that you are Muslim although your name is not.
You want me to know your country no longer holds any of its beauty.
You want me to know of the underbelly – organized crime and prostitution
Making your petty theft nothing more than your best effort to
Care for wife and daughter.
Your words spill over the cobblestones,
Like the blood spilled in this same spot not yet 20 years ago.
Three uncles dead.
Father’s leg blown off in the siege.
Your childhood destroyed.
“You have dreams,” you tell me. “We do not.”
Money stolen becomes payment for a story told.
I see you wince as crone blesses your choice.
And a third.
Your brown waves flow to an end gently above your shoulders
Framing your green eyes like every girl’s idol.
Your favorite color is green, for the peace it brings.
Your words evoke memories.
Another story for this visitor to learn.
White arm bands.
Land signed over in force.
Your story is blurring, slipping, breaking hearts
Over and over and over – Jews, Indians, Muslims.
This story doesn’t stop, doesn’t stop, doesn’t stop.
You carry your dead
Until the day their place of green can be reclaimed.
You invite our return;
To walk with you a year from now,
When memories mark 20 years of grieving.
To this day of July 11.
This day of becoming one.
This day for saying farewell.
This day when Bosnia turns genocide backward.
This day when mothers carry souls home
To be buried as sons and fathers.
And those who loved them bring back not their lives
But their humanity.
This day when thousands and tens and hundreds of thousands
One who lived and died.
One name etched into a grave marker.
Familiar hands place bones into sacred soil.
Loved ones remember the scent of this being,
The sound of his voice,
The touch of his hand,
The whisper of his breath,
The light in his eyes,
The song of his laughter.
Loved ones remember,
And tears fall into fresh dirt.
And humanity is restored to one being.
One being wrenched from the hold of a mass grave.
From the time and space of genocide.
Say farewell to me.