Dec 29

Drought/A Forest in Lungs

By Stipe Odak


That summer, rain did not fall for twelve weeks

Thirsty foxes and self-igniting fires
were waking us up during the nights

There was a votive statue on the way to the fields
with a small figurine of a Saint Anthony inside

I, a boy, took off the glass
and touched him

but his hand fell off

I ran back home
haunted by the fear of punishment

I could not sleep for nine days
Fires were lighting on my palms
threatening to burn every sense and every touch

I knew that in heaven a saint without one hand
would be suspicious to everyone

I went to my toy box
took a hand from an action figure
and offered it back to the saint

That night, it rained for the first time

(That summer, the war started)


A Forest in Lungs

I dreamt that I inhaled pollen
sometime before the beginning of summer

I laid down parallel to the sky
and a forest grew in my lungs

I did not know whether its roots would suffocate me
or if I would simply continue to breathe through its leaves

In a war that cut down many
I lost my life

My son was born after me,
with a little hole between the ventricles of his heart

They told him that he had a heart murmur:
“As if one can hear leaves rustling far, far away”



Stipe Odak is a university researcher focusing on the intersections of memory, religion, and conflicts. He is a published poet and a member of PEN International center in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Art by Michelle Johnsen, art editor

Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine,, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at]