Sarajevo, Chicago

At the restaurant, the ceiling tiles were white
and sagging, weak-in-the-knees, Casablanca lilies.

This was a place that should have taken him back
to his childhood. A place for burial,

a cremation. They arrived with a variety of meats,
d’oeuvres, all the way from Bosnia.

I only knew a matter of words: please, thank you,
excuse me. Molim hvala molim.

And on a good day: Dobar dan, hello.
Laku noć, good night.

I could not describe the flowers or the condition
of the waiters, but I could sense

a divide: a religion. The others of this place believed
in the same God in different clothes.

A short list of words separated
the two languages.

They looked no different to me.

I had no doubts that when the children
went home, they would sleep. And at some point,

they would play in a backyard. They would pick
flowers, and their hands would grow

into larger hands.

It was only a matter of time.


About mckenzielynntozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives and writes in South Bend, Indiana, where she works as the Departmental Secretary of English and World Language Studies at Indiana University South Bend, and remains closely affiliated with 42 Miles Press, New Issues Poetry and Prose, and Wolfson Press. She previously received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, where she worked as the Layout and Design Editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and as an Assistant Editor of Poetry for Third Coast. Her poems have appeared in Encore Magazine, Sleet Magazine, Rogue Agent, Thank You for Swallowing, Whale Road Review, The James Franco Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Analecta; and her book reviews have appeared on her website and on The Rumpus. She lives with her husband, their daughter, and three cats. For more, visit View all posts by mckenzielynntozan

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