Attractions by John Allman



Zagreb, Croatia

This square with its banks of flowers and underground passage to the urine tunnels of pan-handlers and dope-needlers, this trg that overflowed with well-dressed patrons in 1927, when a king ruled, this is the place we walk through, nodding at the slit-eyed policeman not yet aware what he will do if elections are nullified next month, his truncheon raised in the street. We amble past old men on benches along a park. They lean against each other, squabbling about Belgrade, this minute being rubbled by NATO. They are unaware that 30 miles north in the caves of Krapina, Neanderthal bones show evidence of benign tumors, the surgical amputation of a hand, some bones bent by osteoarthritis, a people who arose stiff in the dawn. One skull showing a fracture in the occipital bone where a blunt instrument struck it in the cave where no one could buy an ice cream from a stand and lick his way through the temporary sweetness of the evening, chocolate smear on his lips.