Avde Jabučice Street, Sarajevo

Cement-rendered socialist housing block,
closer in hue to a tombstone
than that pretty peachy pink shade it once was,
back when Yugoslavia existed.
Disfigured by the 90s,
the building’s front wears shrapnel impact,
etched into its smooth corpse-coloured facade,
like cigarette burns on skin.
For three years, ten months, three weeks, three days,
this apartment building witnessed death,
in it, around it, outside it.
Potted plants with lively flowers are industrious on balconies,
working to distract from the wounds of war.
The call to prayer meets with evening church bells,
offering a sacred, soothing polyphony,
that reminds us harmony can be achieved,
while west-facing windows watch over graveyards freckling the hills,
where the innocents of yesteryear remain segregated by faith,
even in eternal sleep.

Author: Miya Yamanouchi

Miya Yamanouchi is a journalist in South Eastern Europe who has reported on post-conflict issues in Bosnia including landmines, mine victims and transitional justice. Her feature writing and news stories can be found in Balkan Insight and The Sarajevo Times.

4 thoughts on “Avde Jabučice Street, Sarajevo”

  1. I am currently enrolled in a creative writing elective for my postgraduate degree in communication, and two weeks ago my lecturer invited us to engage in an optional writing exercise to practice using description and imagery in writing. The task was to “describe a house”. The first thing that came to mind for me, was an apartment I had looked directly out at from my window in Old Town Sarajevo. It’s such an overwhelming juxtaposition of beauty and tragedy, I wanted to capture some of its essence for those who have never visited.

  2. The choice to portray this building as a living being, scarred and hurting, makes for an incredibly beautiful and moving poem. I find the ending to be very touching as well. Bravo, excellently observed and very emotive.

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