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Contents Page: Oct 1, 2011, vol 7 no 3

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Stella Pierides


I once heard about a bundle of postcard drawings found tucked in a crevice high up in the mountains in Northern Greece. The tourists who found them had handed them to their hostel owner, who, upon realising that they originated from the civil war, tore them up right away.

This story was enough to get me going. Since I try to keep alive stories from both sides of the civil war, I immediately attempted to understand what happened. It didn't take me long.

Even now, years after I first heard the story, I can see the young man's hand caressing his breast pocket, where he keeps his postcards to his wife. In his starved body, I imagine, he feels the warmth of his hand. Poor Eirini. She doesn't know he is still alive; still fighting.

After years of war, the fertile valleys in the Grammos Mountains have been destroyed. Even the earth abandoned these men. But he has kept his link to this world. He has been "writing" to his wife, without words, since his unit retreated to the mountaintop. The silence, the isolation, and above all the awareness of approaching defeat robs him of words. Instead, he draws on the rough postcards the hills, the scrub, rocks that look as if made by God: scree, tall cypresses, plane trees, the pines he remembers from his village, he birds on Eirini's headscarf, the flowers on her apron, and recently, the faces of the fighters who died in his arms.

One day, he is certain, his postcards will be found – these drawings will be his last words.

wounded bird—
news from the secret pines
reaches the clearing


*A 'remote' version of the story in this haibun appeared as a flash fiction piece on the 52/250 website.

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