Helena Deda is a writer and photographer  from The Republic of Kosovo. The inspiration behind her writing and photography comes from her experiences during and after The War of Kosovo. 

Three Poems

By Helena Deda

My Bones Ache

My bones ache

It is going to rain tonight
I am certain
My bones tell me everything
My bones are my cicerone;
When I was twenty-three years old
I crossed the river
Twice a day
In the morning and at night
My father would wake up with me
He would walk me through the woods, to the river,
I crossed the river by myself
He was old
His bones ached then
My bones ache now;
I walked the woods
I crossed the river
For seven years
Every season I was there;
In winter I contemplated
I tested the water
Cold but still
My Bones didn’t ache then
They ache now;
Three years out of seven
I crossed the woods by myself
My father became paralyzed
Every morning I bathed him
Dressed him
Combed his fine gray hair
Made his tea
Laid down his alive corpses
Left him there waiting for my return;
He would tell me how is bones ache
I found that odd,
The man couldn’t move from neck down
The memory of aching bones never escaped his mind;
When I was twenty-three years old
I went to the village bazar every Saturday
In wood barrels I carried the cheese
Young and Aged
I walked through the woods
Set the table
Sold the cheese
By dusk I walked the woods back
I was young then but now I am old
My Bones didn’t ache then
My bones ache now;
When I was twenty-three years old
Every Sunday morning
My father and I sat under the walnut tree
“This is God’s day” he would say,
He tells me the same now
In silent words
He tells me everything
I read his silent eyes like I read words;
When I was twenty-four years old,
My father passed away
On a Sunday morning
I bathed him
Combed his fine gray hair
Blue shirt
Black suit
I laid down his dead corpses
Silent closed eyes
I couldn’t read them
His bones didn’t ache then,
My bones ache now.

I Would Have Freed Myself

All gathered

At the center of the city
Like cattle before slater;
We look around
In each other’s eyes,
We search for answers;
Look at me and the sadness duplicates before my eyes
As if they were luckier than I.
I would have freed myself
If I could.

I hold her hand,
I can’t see much,
I see bodies
Infinite amount of backs and fronts,
I cant see faces but hers when she looks at me,
Sweating from dread:
Not holding my hand,
Almost in disbelief,
He turns,
Turns again,
Looking for familiar faces.
He would have freed himself, if he could.

A man dressed in black,
I can only see his eyes,
Makes two lines;
Women and children;
The crying begins,
Bodies glued to each other,
Some cry
Some scream
Some run
The gun firing
Some die
They don’t move anymore neither do we
I remain holding her hand
She would have freed herself,
If she could.

One after another
We enter the bus
No sign
The bus driver dressed all in black,
Our eyes meet
He watches us
One by one
Women and children
He knows the answer
We can’t ask
He would have freed himself,
If he could.

I sit on her lap
He on our left
A bag with clothes under her feet
We pas field after field
Everything is frozen
But this bus that moves alone in this road,
We would have freed ourselves,
If we could.

Before dusk
We stop
In the middle of the forest we are left alone waiting
Before we became one with the night
One with the darkness
She unpacks her bag
I lay inside the bag under her feet
We wait for the morning to come.

I would have freed myself,
She would have freed herself,
He would have freed himself,
They would have freed themselves,
If they could.

Crows Bring Bad News

We sat under the grape vines,
Side by side,
Mother and daughter,
Watched the smoke of burning houses.
A crow on the fence,
The only other companion of our mutual loneliness,
She said “ Bad news I am going to hear”
         “Crows bring bad news”
A man walked through the red gate,
She held my hand;
She Stood up holding a small knife while pushing me behind her.
In common tongue he spoke “Bad news I am bringing with hope that it will find you well,
Husband and wife,
Both dead,
Children remain in the house,
The three year old cries as if he knew”
We sat back under the grape vines,
Side by side,
Looking across from our house;
Nicholas and Zara sat on the balcony,
Side by side too,
Mother and Son;
He cleaning the rifle
She sipping tea.
We belong to two different worlds,
Once a family shared bread together,
Now predictor and pray.
We look at each other in silence,
As if asking for forgiveness for what’s about to come.
We sat under the grape vines,
Side by side,
Holding hands we cried,
I cried for her,
She cried for me,
Then and there I wished I never saw a crow again.