On Seeing a Photograph of Affan Ramic's Dead Son

"All these moments will be lost in time like tears in rain" -

from "Blade Runner"

A new studio. And new work too, light and airy,

After the charred objet trouve cross-beams and fiery black conflagrations

Of the siege pieces. A bridge, all creams and whites,

Ultramarine for the Neretva, a touch of terracotta.

At the table, jokingly, he tosses each of us an egg -

Unknown hardboiled. When he opens a new monograph

He's a small prewar boy with his parents, then with a small boy

In summer shorts, aged five forever. As he thumbs on

I am still back with it - or rather, with the face transmogrified

To my own son's. When I mention how sad it is

An eye-rim glistens like must on a summer grape.

A brush on the shoulder. Nothing more. We move on . . .

Sarajevo outskirts. Leaving again. Past Ilidza -

Its old Austrian tram sign in Roman and Cyrillic - lush midsummer

Bosnian verdure. O radiant day

Booming like the pink-bloomed light

Outside the flytrap window screen of my grandmother's death-room!

Haycocks, maize, woodpiles, ruins, lavender;

Orchards, hill-meadows, an aqueduct, kiosks, turban-stones.

Jars of honey at roadside stalls. Blaze of alpine buttercup. How to bear up,

How go on, when the world's refracted to a single tear?

This article first appeared in the 24 May 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Luvvies, stop moaning