Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
I hope you won’t mind a poem. This tale is attached to the photo from Wednesday’s post, but I couldn’t find a better way to explain the scene than in this poem that I wrote a few years ago.
Hana was trying to tell me something,
speaking quickly, lighting up, focusing in, rushing words together.
She saw my uncertain face and began again, again
and I leaned over and in,
as though the closer I got to a 45 degree angle the closer I was to comprehension,
but I still couldn’t follow, and went scrambling through my options to find
the one word I could say to her that would make any difference:
She covered her mouth in gratitude and nodded.
The one Bosnian word that managed to make it to my mouth,
the one perfect word that meant her story made sense
even if, technically,
I couldn’t understand the slightest phrase.
My hostess was stout and beautiful, hair to match her red felt bathrobe,
pointing me into white leather house shoes with wobbly heels.
Surprised by my excessive habit of smiling
she pinched my cheeks,
said something about my green eyes,
poured my second coffee cup too full,
modeled how I should drink spoonfuls out before picking it up.
Then after I lowered the level, as I lifted it to my mouth,
she traded saucers with me–hers now gritty and mine sparkling clean.
She wanted then to give me proper nouns for details,
and these even I could repeat:
Milošević. Karadžić. Serb. Croat. Bosniak. Boom boom. Sarajevo.
Her eyes met mine over and under
and I gathered what she gave.
With me she could offer all her large and small wonders,
her uncertain statements of fact,
her story under siege.
How freeing, in practice, to say anything, everything, and be heard
for the depths, the feelings below your words.
Anything I remembered from the Bosnian phrasebook–
how to order lamb or cheese, though I just pointed,
how to say my wife likes the city, though I have no wife,
how to say I am from Mostar, though I hadn’t seen it yet–
would have been insufficient to express what I needed, what I wanted to learn.
Full poem in liminalities. http://liminalities.net/5-4/#hospitality