Ann Thomas

East or west for refugees held no consequence,
On both sides of our town they took up residence
Restoring the quick, vital flow of lifeblood to
The long decaying neighborhoods of Waterloo

Through flagstone paths between homes, taut rock artery
Laid with prewar muscle memory: masonry
Practiced by master craftsmen suturing anew
The dismembered narrow side yards of Waterloo

Now filled with the fragrance of Bosnian coffee
Beans measured into brass hand mills families carry
Through genocide, refugee camps, relocation,
Murmuring handles turn under conversation

Until the sharp crack of wholeness purrs to fine grounds
Steeped in boiled water, poured out in cups passed around
By fingers that squeezed triggers, hands that tossed grenades
And knit Waterloo with flagstone artfully laid.

Ann Thomas lives and buries the dead in Iowa City, Iowa. Her narrative nonfiction has appeared in a number of publications including Dappled Things, Image Journal, and Ruminate: The Waking.