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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 12 | volume III | January, 2000



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 12January, 2000
Prose

Straw People

/6
p. 1
Krste Čačanski

    It was December, the end of fall, 1972, and I was being transferred to the Third Infantry Regiment at N. As if in a dream I was taking leave of the stone walls that surrounded the school as if it were a dream; I had just finished at the School for Reserve Officers in Bilekje, but I felt no joy, something had withered, dried up in me. The other officers were saying good-bye, embracing each other; they were an avalanche that thaws on the spot, and I felt empty inside, I quaked in the air like an aspen, exhausted, amazed, and tied to that airy veil that wraps up good-byes. I looked at that honest, pure picture from far, so very far, but still there, at the center of that quivering aspic that was embracing and thawing. I know now that I was looking for that piece that had been torn off from me, the piece of my soul that rings somewhere among the stones of Herzegovina, wanders there, and cannot die.
    The school was located in the building of the former Austro-Hungarian prison; its interior had been partially renovated, but I couldn’t help feeling that I was in jail without knowing what my crime was. The stone walls confined the air and the memories, surrounded space and time, and only occasionally allowed my thought to spread its wings over the rampart, go astray and return exhausted, divided, and imprecise. At such times I looked for the shortcut to myself, amazed by the sharp commands and the mixed messages of the trumpets.
    The town, a logical attachment to the barracks, began north of the school, and the other sides of the world were mountains. East of the ramparts, the Trebinica sank into the earth; the river disappeared into a karst suddenly, its mouth surrounded by three lines of barbed wire. I avoided uttering its name during the day, but its dark warbling, unannounced and heavy, came like an omen during the night. All of us kept silent about its name, its ominousness, and its underground voice, but we dreamed about it in many different ways. One night, I dreamed about it too: the Trebishnica appeared before me as an extraordinary woman, with long, flowing hair. She beckoned me gently, with tender irony and deep woe, with suffering. And from that night on, the dream recurred, became pure matter, and I was no






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