Serbia | 2003
Natasha Radojcic-Kane was born in Belgrade. She graduated with a BA in English literature from Fordham University and earned an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia. Her first book, Homecoming (2002), a novel of the aftermath of the Bosnian War, is told in the voice of a Muslim soldier returning home to his village after the fighting is over.
The signal tower of Santa Maddalena, an ancient gray giant, commands the area majestically and modestly. Brown wood encases the narrow stairs used to transport the soldiers all the way to the top, back in the days of simpler visible enemies. The gentle sanctuary, the dream-house the signal tower protected, sits quietly to the left. The yellowish vines hide its windows, countless colors cover its walls: plum, lavander and ruby, copper, azure, pearl. One would expect eternal silence here and yet, everywhere there are sounds, sounds, rivers of hums, ripples of echoes: nature mysterious to the newly arrived Urban Poet.
She is tired. Her journey was too long. It lasted many years. Many solitary battles, no soldiers on guard, no signal tower. She enters the sanctuary and instantly falls into a deep slumber. But the sounds, the spirits around her do not. They chant–tell us, Poet, tell us stories, into her sleeping ear. They demand– words, words, give us words! The Poet becomes enchanted that night, enchanted by her cool room, the thick wooden door that unbolts into the greenness, the warmth of the white cat that coils beside her and purrs her unending loneliness away. The Poet dreams that she is safe, safe…
The next afternoon she begins to obey the requests. The words pour, pour, drown, burgeon. The Poet’s voice no longer stutters. Her words are as abundant as the landscape, spiraling across the blank pages like the dark emerald cypresses across the pale-jade Tuscan hills and they grow, grow longer, stronger until they form sentences, paragraphs, stories the Poet has long promised but could never find, could never tell until the moment she herself became one with the magic of Santa Maddalena.
Dearest Beatrice, thank you for giving me a place to put down my weapons, a place to slow down and hear the voice of my Muse instead. I am forever indebted.