Fall 2001.


by Cheryl A. Rice

Not knowing which way the blood flows,
Serbian, Croatian, Montenegran,
I am there with them anyway, pounding
the streets of Belgrade, storming the
Parliment, tossing portraits of the most
recent dictator through the long, old glass;
I am the soldier for once not following orders,
plugging my own rifle with a daisy,
joining in the revolution on the side of
the people, not strangers to this necessity,
party of the new century, election bash.

I light a candle, long having admired the yarzeits
my Jewish friends use to remember their dead,
to remember my own, an unknown grandfather,
perhaps Catholic, perhaps alcoholic, who
abandoned the green hills, medieval relics of
the Balkans, abandoned my mother, her mother,
or was asked to leave, to die in the Catskills, living in
sin, baking bread in the Borscht belt.

Returning is not an option for me, or him,
and Mike cannot tell me which side to vote for,
how it was in the old country, which way
the rivers flow. The red candle will flicker
on my stovetop, new flag of Yugoslavia
taped around it, familiar colors of
red, blue, white lit from within, and I wonder
if he ever felt at home.