Tijana Zderic is an activist with Room to Read, an international non-profit organisation that seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in low-income countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Bosnian by origin, Tijana is an aspiring fiction writer and poet. Her most recent poetry can be found in Voice & Verse (Hong Kong), Projected Letters (New York) and The Curlew (UK).
To Boys Who Still Pull on My Braids
My father lost half an ear
saving a comrade on the front line.
My mother, half-dressed,
hopped between sniper shots
to get to where they held him.
My mother was love’s ricocheting bullet.
I tell her war-happily-ever-after
to boys who still pull on my braids;
Boys, life is not like this:
tugging on pretty things to make them yours.
There is loss, too,
even if one doesn’t know what to do with it.
It could have been my father’s hands that were severed.
How would he have tugged for the things he wanted to give her then?
Boys, loss varies in degrees.
True loss is severed limbs you need for labour.
Bearable loss mucks about with the aesthetics of things.
You know this by having lost:
to win is to withstand any degree of loss
and still love.
This is life, it happens,
I say to boys who still pull on my braids.
© 2019 Tijana Zderic