I was dirty then, the dust of Bosnian hills 
curling like smoke through my hair. 

I walked into Mostar, into the predawn smell of bread 
rising from stone-oven shantytowns in the market. 

Fruit and bread for breakfast, wrinkled smiles 
from old peasant women, and children peeking from behind skirts. 

This was a toothless town. High up on the arched bridge 
I bought baklava for less than a penny and listened to water 

surging against the stone foundations, centuries old, the river 
once tainted with Muslim and Christian blood, a town cloven 

by water, spliced by the bridge. All day long for a millennium 
travelers and soldiers and schoolchildren had crossed, 

passing more than once the heads of Turks staked high on the arch, 
more than once a man skewered like a chicken through his anus, 

the wooden rod jutting out his shoulder, just missing his organs, 
an inch from his heart, the man alive for days 

because they knew how to do this so well. 

A naked boy with baked walnut skin asked me for dinars 
and pointed down a hundred feet to muddy water, 

and I said no but watched him as he dropped leaflike 
over the edge anyway, pointed himself like an arrow, disappeared 

without a splash into the river.