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After hours on the road, the names on the radio
begin to sound like the Latinate names of flowers:
I can almost imagine Dragodan buds
bound by ribbons along church pew isles
and the faces of children stealing them
from around their mothers' waists; or clusters
of Dardania in wedding bouquets, layered
with baby's breath, then tossed to waiting women;
and Pristina, surely a variety of rose so rare, so
fragile, you can scarcely imagine the small towns

they really name, their fire hollowed homes,
the occasional small hands and feet protruding
from the scorched earth like flower bulbs
hastily planted. You can scarcely imagine
the wells drawing water to nourish gardens,
fruit trees, families, or the soldiers torturing
new brides, mothers, young girls, and pushing
them into wells where their watery skin
still decays smooth as vellum around stone.

The radio announcer extends an already long list
of names: Luljeta, Petrit, Marije, Flori. I can
almost see their breath rise off the black, liquid tar
on the road and thin into less dense desert air,
far from the wells in villages with pretty names
where named and unnamed bodies dissipate
into soil, into miles of burnt grass scattered
with fiery bursts of color so rare, so fragile,
I can begin to imagine the women
who dared to smell such sweetness.

      — Darlene Pagan