What I Saw In Banja Luka, Tabitha Fortis

-based on The U.S. Poet Laureate episode of The West Wing

In Banja Luka a father leads his son to the shores of the Sava River
for an afternoon spent listening to the water, like life and time, passing.

He teaches his son to cast his metal out into the moving current
and to wait patiently for a connection, wait until something tugs at him.

The boy, with his pole and his pride and his father, mistakes a relic
rusted out on his hook for the wiggle and struggle of some reward.

For half an hour he drags the ring to shore, fighting a pointless war.

In Banja Luka the remains of a boy are laid to rest. The hands,
a foot, what’s left of a chest, the blood of the boy exploded

into the pores of the father’s dark, muscled, scarred arms,
blown into the grey flecks of his once jet black hair, his own

childhood stolen, like a first kiss is stolen, like land is stolen.
And the father, all day, whimpering to emptiness, “Mine, mine.”

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