The Woman of Bihac

by | Jan 1, 2006 | Poetry | 0 comments

It was a day out,
A swan around in the Land Rover,
A day to prevent me from going stale,
Check out the facts on the ground,
Bihac is where it can be found
Seventh Corps: pride of the Bosniac Army,
Let’s see what they’re up to,
At the very least it’ll serve to
liven up the sterile nightly intreps.

Checkpoint by a crossroads,
One of our tanks showing the IFOR flag,
Stop for a chat and a coffee,
A bit of a laugh and a fag.
Close by, a row of houses,
Leastways that’s what they were,
Now bullet-scarred and shrapnel splashed,
Windows gone and for a door,
a grubby blanket rippled in the sullen draught.

Sitting high on the turret,
Laughing with the commander,
Jokes and regimental gossip,
Little lies and slander,
I, at first, failed to notice,
The blanket-door being parted,
Out from the ruins, the woman
emerged with shopping-bag
to scavenge slim-pickings in the market.

But oh what a woman,
Diamond bright in the detritus of the siege,
Scrupulously hoarded makeup applied with loving skill
To war-haggard features,
Her spirit yet unconquered,
Her dignity a banner bright, midst the grey, declaring
That hers was the victory,
On the intrusive tank we followed her progress,
Silent; staring.


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