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Crawling Down the Beautiful

Linda Rogers
From:   Heaven Cake. Sono Nis, 1997. p.62


The rivers of Yugoslavia
are swollen with women
growling like the bellies of soldiers
who eat and drink too much
and take their post prandial
naps on the porch of the Hotel Sonia,
where comfort women are kept.

Picture the men with their mouths open,
leaning old wooden chairs against the wall,
their spurs digging into the floor.

If you were to hide in the top branches of a tree
strewn with the undergarments of martyrs
you would hear snoring and digesting,
shouting water, outraged girls full of spawn,
their bodies bruised by men and rocks,
and hungry wolves seaching the riverbanks
where the victims abandon their shoes.

The rivers of Yugoslavia have beautiful names;
Drava, Morava, Drina,
words a man might say in the dark
into the ear of his beloved,
the same man who carves his name
in the bellies of Bosnian
women at the Hotel Sonia.

These women remember the faces of the men
who cut and raped them,
took them out behind the Hotel Sonia
and, good christian soldiers,
hung their dresses and undergarments,
their loose teeth,
like Christmas tinsel on trees
then threw them into the river.

What you hear is not just
water or water music by famous composers.
These women, Nadia, Sophia, Mila, Oriana-
swallowed by wolves like the duck
who cried Wolf! in the Russian fairytale,
are calling out the names of the men who drowned them
as they crawl down the beautiful
rivers of Yugosalvia,
back to sea we came from.



Linda Rogers's works copyright © to the author.


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