My Fever (for Jana)
Confined to bed, sheets sticking
like shrink wrap to my fevered skin.
The sun seeps in through the curtains like a stain.
The sweet sharpness of peppers, hung in chains outside
to make ajvar, or kiseli paprika
and keep us the whole winter, fills the room.
Mushrooms are drying on the straw
and my mother's voice rises from the thick walled kitchen
as she stirs the chicken soup to nurse me to health.
I know you're dead. I know this country
doesn't even exist anymore,
yet the smell of fresh linen and rakija
rubbed onto my boyish breast
enwraps me more convincingly
than this new land or duvet that weigh upon me now.
Baba putting wet oats in my socks
to take away the fever,
mother scolding her home-spun remedies.
I feel my mother's hand, warm and dry,
passing across my fevered forehead
and know that all will be well.
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Poet's Notes about The Poem
Runner up for The English Association Fellows' Poetry Prize 2007