A POEM FROM 

KOSOVO WAR  POETRY  by David Roberts

The Return

This poem was written after watching, many times, a documentary about the Drenica valley in Kosovo in 1998. The camera team stayed with people from both sides in the conflict through many of their traumatic ordeals. The only comentary was the voices of the people. It was this film that set me off writing about Kosovo  - a subject which has dominated my life for over a year now.  The first poem I wrote on this subject was Kosovo: Prelude to War  -  DR, July 2000.

Agim from the KLA arrived.

Safe to return to the village, he said.

The villagers who had stayed high in the hills

knew what to expect.

They talked mostly of other things as they walked

slowly along stony paths, descending.

Hashim was with them. And not with them.

On the edge of the quiet group.

His thoughts were for his son.

He said nothing.

A haze of heat shimmered on burning stones.

Fierce light burned down upon the peasant group

descending through the trees,

through orchards, past fields of waiting corn.

Flies buzzed on fallen fruit.

from time to time the neighbours stopped.

They could see the village below them

at some distance:

a collection of blackened ruins,

ghostly in the glare of day.

Hashim recalled

how he had tried to restrain hot-head neighbours

who had set out to kill Serbs.

Angry, they would not listen.

They would not listen.

He was the last to enter the village.

Others, ahead were entering ruins

keen to know the worst.

Their voices rang out.

Here!

This is Halim.

This is Halim, look.

They shot him.

He fell in the fire.

This must be Ismet.

You know he had six children.

Did they escape?

Where is their mother?

We haven’t found her.

This is Mehmet’s son.

Here is poor Rahim.

He was seventy. Such a kind man!

We’ll start digging graves

for the fifteen we’ve found so far.

Hashim’s quest ion was not answered.

In the next house

he looked in

his friend Fehmi stood

staring at charred remains.

He was speechless.

Hashim, too. What could he say?

Beyond the village

a grassy track led into a wood.

Here were more bodes, fallen headlong,

smelling in the noonday heat,

flies busy on ghastly faces.

And here was his answer,

his son.

Poor Azem. My poor Azem.

So much,

for good intentions.

 

David Roberts     

24 July, 15 September, 13 November 1999

Copyright © 1999 David Roberts

Free use for students personal study requirements only. No publication without authorisation.

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