The border

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A scrunch of rusting wire, a wonky iron gate
wedged open, rooted in place by brambles.
An apple-yellow afternoon. We arrived
at a huddle of houses where the track forked,
dead-ending alpine meadows. September
crocuses pinked the pasture, cows ambled,
plaster peeled from a police post.

The Rhodope mountain trail petered out
like the summer, all oozing plums
and idling wasps, rakia fermenting on the farms,
a skitter of lizards. This was the border.
On one side, bristling pines, the other –
just the same. We jumped from side
to side – Bulgaria! Greece! Greece! Bulgaria!

There was no difference. The air was limp
in either jurisdiction, an afternoon made
for meanderings of boot and conversation.
We found a mural of a guard, Kalashnikov
at the ready, face merging into mouldering render.
A cowbell tinkled. The sky was blue as sleep.
Once, someone would have shot us if we’d crossed.

This poem was published in Clear Poetry, October 2015
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