Stari Most Bridge

by Patricia Duffy
Bosnia

Boys in swim shorts climb brick stairs to
Gather at the parapet
By the edge of the single arch of Stari Most
Hot sun reflecting off the green river Neretva
Flowing from the snow in the Dinarian Alps
Two climb up, toes grip the stone edge
Arms stretch to dive, inching close
They climb down again.

Build it or die
Commanded Suleiman the Magnificent
Four centuries ago
Where the humpbacked white stone arch
Slowly rose between two protective towers
Like a rainbow.

Boys in swim shorts were born long after
Bakers carried Balkan bread to market between the towers
Donkey carts transported iron for the blacksmith's forge
Or the Bosnian war lords murdered
A complex society.
Forcing the people to choose a diaspora or parish,
Destroying a bridge.

Two boys in swim shorts climb the parapet of Stari Most
Set their feet, stretch, and spring off the bridge
With magnificent arcs and loud splashes into the icy river.
A white haired man who remembers
Looks up from his fishing pole
To watch the splash
Of the boys who build anew.

Patricia Duffy teaches writing at Mott Community College in Michigan. She is currently completing the final edit of her first novel, a satire. In the summer she enjoys adventure travel and cycling.

© 2014, Patricia Duffy