I wrote this poem in the early 1990s after travelling round the former Soviet Union with my friend Georgina Wroe. We stopped off in the breakaway region of Trans Dnestr which was at war with the neighbouring country of Moldova. It was a Leninist enclave which was fighting to remain part of Russia.
Season: Summer. Scene: A Slavic War.
The guns are silent in the afternoon
But the days all end like soldiers.
In the dusty lobby of our hotel
Italian journalists demand a room
Angry in three languages.
In the square girls in lilac blusher
Wait, looking east to a land
Where there is peace; and cheese.
A woman selling flowers wept.
And last night we were startled by a boy
Who climbed up to our balcony
Laughed, and begged a cigarette and fled.