The Cellist of Sarajevo

Anna Citrino

I imagine him sitting inside the ruined buildings
on his straight-backed chair, his white shirt

shining out from beneath the dark of his tuxedo.
He leans forward into his instrument, draws

his bow across tensioned strings--notes tumbling
out into the streets in ten thousand untold hopes,

the crescendo of lives lost, homes destroyed,
quavering in the air between the staccatoed gunfire.

Music breaks from the opened hole in the wooden
heart, adagios of longing that flutter into the air, searching

blindly for a home known only by instinct. Faces
peek from behind curtains. The neighborhood listens

inside the shadows of cracked open doors. Bullets
hurling overhead and still he plays. The strength

of his upheld arm. The weight day after day,
running down the scale of abandoned dreams.

I think of him now at the end of the school day
while sitting alone in my classroom as I sift

through the debris of books, papers and messages,
quietness ricocheting from the walls, and wonder—

what voice, what sound will rise up from the center
of this room when darkness falls?

A California native, Anna Citrino has taught abroad in six different countries. Her current home is Soquel, California. A graduate of the Bread Loaf School of English in Vermont, Her work appears in various literary journals, including Canary, The Evening Street Review, Paterson Literary Review, Poppy Road Review, and Rockvale Review. She's the author of A Space Between, and two chapbooks; Saudade, and To Find a River. Read more at

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