In Sarajevo

Your hold on me
was as black as the war you came from.

My neck is still blue from the steel rim,
the shrapnel you carry with you.
It’s a battle that waged in my head
The harder I’d fight you.

It’d been five years
since you held your gun for a reason.
Yet every night for a week
you’d arrive without warning –
sneak in when it was dark
and pin me down like prison.

At least when soldiers invaded your country
the world saw you as the victim.

The rose you gave me was blue,
like my eyes, and your wife’s arm when she doesn’t cooperate.
I knew the moment I gave into you
I’d never see another one like it.

And just like my head,
My body changed in a week, along with your words for it.

You will want to kill me, too,
when I am strong enough.

You’d say,
“There is a word for girls like you.”
But the journey from love to hate
Is the same one, and always dangerous.
And for 319 days, I learn to be quiet
Just like my mother does.

It’s one of those things that won’t make or break you,
I know this.

But something I could not possibly have known–
The world will see you as a healthy boy.

And just like the camps where your mother was forced to work
While you were brave and fighting it,
They’ll wave us to opposite sides, based on size and strength:
You to the side that lives;

I to the left.

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