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