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Photography: Sarah Reed
Jessica Le Bas

Jessica Le Bas lives in Nelson. Her poetry has been published in Listener,
North & South and numerous New Zealand literary journals. She is spending
2005 writing fulltime on a collection of poetry, supported by a Creative
NZ grant. She worked for the UN in former Yugoslavia in 1994-5.
Balkans ‘95

The tram along Ilica from the square
past the stone horseman, his spear

pointing east. The watchmakers’ golden
window, shelves alight, nothing  tarnished, sold.

The army marching through the streets,
stops the traffic, the sound of souls, slow feet

like thunder, bombs on the plateau
the Sava frozen, slow

and draining south. The legless woman in no coat
tears her wooden babe from its wooden throat

screams publicly, where no one hears.
Overhead a country circles, disappears.


leaving when you were four
had little to do with plums
the ice box bare

a war one side of the world
now at home
the guards at your door

you found a compass
in your school bag
the side of your arm bled

and if we talk now
it is with the short words
in hiding

life vest under your seat

by the exit door
her tan shoes, knees together
a pattern of thumb prints on a headrest

his bookmark doesn’t move
sun glasses reflect the view of leaving
she offers pure water

the engine’s trim
sucked in through a baby’s lungs
the sound of the air conditioner

flowers she picked at dawn
limp folds of her frock
speckled with dew

the evening post spread
its wings flap as he reads
the financial page

the girl from Idaho asks
what does it feel like, all this sea
a colour of sky so wide

her hair damp
the pull of the surf at Lyall bay
the reverse thrust of arriving

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