Plums save people
from their loneliness,
so we plant plum trees
across the whole country
and pray for a time plums
don’t have to worry about us.
I watch a young war veteran
drink from his paper bag
two benches to my left.
Bodies and bombs hide
in the green Sava
while plums shake.
He remembers everything
when he closes his eyes
because plums don’t save.
But they never leave him—
“There, there,” they whisper.
“You won’t explode alone.”
Letter to Port Orange, February 2020
I keep thinking about that Friday forever ago,
at that bar with Ayla, string lights drooping.
It was so crowded I could feel some man behind
me talking, his spine touching mine, sound waves
bouncing. I knew then I needed to know you.
What is it I was expecting? The bath is running,
but it’s one of those nights I’ll wait til it gets cold.
I wonder if you’ll ever see the inside pocket
of my favorite jacket, the one I keep empty
because it’s too full already. I’ve held real people
less than I’ve held you. What I mean is, don’t
read between the lines but do write back.
I called you my love before I was even born.
Except for this, there are no more war
stories left to tell. I’ve tasted thunder
like you wouldn’t believe. Forests
have grown in my palms, and men
have carved men into trees. See all
these stains on my skin? I’m rotting.
An apple you shouldn’t pick. I’ve
scavenged for friends’ body parts
in fields we used to race in, trying
to outrun eagles above us. How
could we have known? Scattered
puzzle pieces and broken trinkets.
The last lesson as grasshoppers feed.
Milica Mijatović is a Serbian poet and translator. Born in Brčko, Bosnia and Hercegovina, she relocated to the United States where she earned a BA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Capital University. She recently received her MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University and is a recipient of a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in The Louisville Review, Poet Lore, Consequence, Santa Clara Review, Barely South Review, and elsewhere.