robertisenberg

Bullet Holes

In Bosnia on August 4, 2009 at 12:00 am

Archipelagos 283

The holes are like acne on pale faces. There are big blemishes and long tears that scar the plaster, and in-between are hundreds of tiny blackheads, pocked by high-powered rifles.

Sure, I’ve seen bullet-holes before – in shop windows, the circular shatter of a stray shot. But I’ve never seen anything like this: Entire walls flecked and chipped, bitten and pecked. The widest gashes are like vertical potholes, oblong circles punched through the wall’s smooth skin, exposing the brick inside.

Most of the Old City is rejuvenated. I’ll pass an entire city block and see only fresh façades – bright signs, stone arches over doorways, clean shop windows displaying cell-phones and watches. But then I’ll turn a corner and see these galaxies of puncture-marks, holes unfilled, mortar broken away. Buildings on the main streets are lucky – they’ve been refurbished, rebuilt, made-over so that the war’s damage is invisible. Then I turn a corner, into a side-street, an alley, and I see the houses still nursing wounds. Some walls await a single spadeful of wet cement.

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