Iowa Writes

KAY FENTON SMITH AND CAROL SPAULDING-KRUSE
from Zakery's Bridge


Zakery, fifth grade, from Bosnia and Herzegovina

I dreamed of going to Bosnia and Herzegovina and crossing the Old Bridge in Mostar. My parents and brother and sister came from Mostar to escape the Bosnian War before I was born. They have so many stories about this place, it seems familiar—the city of bridges—with a wide river running through. Our trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina last summer was the best time of my life. It had been eleven years since my family left their homeland, and it meant a lot to see where we are from. When I met my relatives for the first time, they hugged me and kissed me. My grandmother was so happy she was crying.

When we crossed the Old Bridge, it was even more beautiful than I imagined, with cobbles, and roses growing along the side. Stone houses with orange tile roofs line the Neretva River, and mountains rise up in the distance. They say the bridge was cemented together in 1566 with eggs, milk, flour, and horse hair. Then, after four centuries, it was destroyed during the war. My aunts and uncles, and everyone in Mostar, loved the bridge so much; they had the boulders brought up from the bottom of the river and rebuilt it.

Zakery, fifth grade, from Bosnia and Herzegovina

I dreamed of going to Bosnia and Herzegovina and crossing the Old Bridge in Mostar. My parents and brother and sister came from Mostar to escape the Bosnian War before I was born. They have so many stories about this place, it seems familiar—the city of bridges—with a wide river running through. Our trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina last summer was the best time of my life. It had been eleven years since my family left their homeland, and it meant a lot to see where we are from. When I met my relatives for the first time, they hugged me and kissed me. My grandmother was so happy she was crying.

When we crossed the Old Bridge, it was even more beautiful than I imagined, with cobbles, and roses growing along the side. Stone houses with orange tile roofs line the Neretva River, and mountains rise up in the distance. They say the bridge was cemented together in 1566 with eggs, milk, flour, and horse hair. Then, after four centuries, it was destroyed during the war. My aunts and uncles, and everyone in Mostar, loved the bridge so much; they had the boulders brought up from the bottom of the river and rebuilt it.

We watched a diver jumping from the bridge. The skakaci [ska-KACH-ee], as they are called in Herzegovina, come to Mostar every summer to see who the best diver is. They come from all over the former Yugoslavia. Most people don't dive from the top of the bridge, only really brave people....It's 27 meters tall, and the current runs incredibly fast. Everyone shouted, "Hey, look at the guy who's jumping from the bridge." He formed a perfect arc and disappeared beneath the surface. I held my breath, waiting. Finally his head popped up and everyone cheered.

Across the bridge a sign read: "Never forget"....So many people died or had to leave because of the Bosnian War, they don't want people to forget what happened. When I saw bombed-out buildings, I understood more of what my family went through—especially when we drove to the house where my dad grew up. Now my cousin's family lives there. From a distance it looked like other stone houses, but when we got closer we saw damage from the war. The part where my cousin lives was okay, but the other half was bombed. The wall is there, two rooms and the kitchen, but the next room is gone. My uncle put the stones back so it looked like the wall had been moved. My grandfather built that house. It was sad to see it like that. It would take a lot of money to put it back the way it was. If I had money, one day when I grow up, maybe I could go back there and fix it...just like the Old Bridge in Mostar.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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KAY FENTON SMITH AND CAROL SPAULDING-KRUSE

Zakery's Bridge: Children's Journeys from Around the World to the Heartland is a collection of nonfiction stories based on conversations with refugee and immigrant children in Iowa. For more information about this forthcoming book, please contact Kay Fenton Smith (kayfentonsmith@msn.com).

A children's author based in Des Moines, Kay Fenton Smith is involved with youth literacy through volunteer reading and writing programs. In addition to Zakery's Bridge, she is working on a middle-grade novel.

Carol Spaulding-Kruse is associate professor of English at Drake University in Des Moines, where she teaches fiction writing and ethnic American literature. She is the author of Navelencia, a multi-generational story about a Korean-American family.

This page was first displayed
on June 06, 2007

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