by Nadija Kadunic

“A mass grave is excavated in 2013.
Hundreds of bodies are recovered—
few identified as whole.”

Twenty years ago in Bosnia,
the man with muscular arms
is stopped on the street— gun to his head.
Hundreds of dead bodies surround him
left to rot in the sun after last night’s raid.
Forced, he spends three days
loading corpses onto the bed
of a semi-truck, tossing them
like bags of flour over his shoulder,
piling one on top of the other
higher and higher.
One is his cousin, another his friend,
a third the neighbor he had coffee with
only the morning before.
On the last day the bodies are unidentifiable—
connected only by the houses
they were slaughtered
in front of. At home
he stares at his arms
outstretched in front of him,
blood submerged to his elbows.
His wife washes them, praying
for the water to cleanse him.
But still he stares, still he sees blood,
and hunches over the sink to vomit,
unaware of his own body—
“these arms are not mine.”

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