Academic journal article Chicago Review

Letter to Simic from Boulder

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Letter to Simic from Boulder

Article excerpt

Dear Charles: And so we meet once in San Francisco and I learn I bombed you long ago in Belgrade when you were five. I remember. We were after a bridge on the Danube hoping to cut the German armies off as they fled north from Greece. We missed. Not unusual, considering I was one of the bombardiers. I couldn't hit my ass if I sat on the Norden or rode a bomb down singing The Star Spangled Banner. I remember Belgrade opened like a rose when we came in. Not much flak. I didn't know about the daily hangings, the 80,000 Slavs who dangled from German ropes in the city, lessons to the rest.

I was interested mainly in staying alive, that moment the plane jumped free from the weight of bombs and we went home. What did you speak then? Serb, I suppose. And what did your mind do with the terrible howl of bombs? What is Serb for "fear"? It must be the same as in English, one long primitive wail of dying children, one child fixed forever in dead stare. I don't apologize for the war, or what I was. I was willingly confused by the times. I think I even believed in heroics (for others, not for me). I believed the necessity of that suffering world, hoping it would learn not to do it again. …

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