Farida Samerkhanova

Echo of War
 

Three hundred and sixty five nights
Multiplied by twelve years,
Plus leap year nights,
Make thousands of nightmares.
 
In his troubled dreams: dead men,
Women, children, horses, sheep,
Pigs – all in one huge messy pile
On the riverbank by his home.
In different dreams he was dead among the dead,
Alive among dead, vomiting in bushes
Or wading in blood-red water.
 
He saw his tank on fire; his comrades killed;
Had to go to their mothers and fathers
And tell them he had failed
To rescue their one twenty-year-old son
In the battle. In his nightmares
The grieving parents would pierce him
With eyes like laser beams.
 
One of his friends whose nose was blown off
With a grenade, haunted him.
Blood poured from the hole above his mouth
And the dark red bled on the carpet
Near his son’s bedroom door.
 
He saw the head of his bosom friend
Cut off his body with a knife;
The eyes were open
With an explicit question:
Why didn’t you save me?
If he had saved the friend
They would have killed him,
Then his wife and kid.
 
Another friend he rescued from
Execution, would always meet him
On the wooden bridge yelling
And pointing his gun
For being doomed to tormented survival:
Sans eye, sans arm, sans foot.
 
He screamed; sweated in the night
For flashbacks to those brutal men
Gutting the stomachs of pregnant women.
 
The soundtrack of his nightmares:
The roar right overhead of NATO
Aircrafts bombing Belgrade
On a Sunday morning while his friend
Was taking his daughter to Baptism.
 
He survived; tried to be normal.
In the broad daylight he could manage it:
He worked, smiled, talked to people.
But the tension of the nights
Was unbearable. Once the burden
Overweighed, there was nothing he
Could do but take a grenade
Hidden in the ground in the vineyard
Behind his house; let it explode
In his hand.
  Only then the replay
Of those horrors stopped,
At a pin-drop.

Farida Samerkhanova © 2009