I came across it half-hidden by snow
one sunlit winter evening
so peaceful that one could not hope to know
of horrors that once passed there.
But curiosity being what it is, I stopped
hoping to find out more, and when I did
I almost wish I hadn’t,
for now I cannot un-learn what I learned there.
The ruined Smolej farmhouse, sole remnant
of this small hamlet, nestled in a valley far from sight
atrocities well-hidden where
I read the legend in the waning light:
‘In retaliation for a partisan attack
on a group of German soldiers one week earlier
the Germans burned down the houses
and the outbuildings of Srednja Radovna.’
24 innocent villagers killed, trapped in the burning buildings
the youngest a seven-month-old child
the oldest an 81-year-old woman.
I wonder who survived to tell their tale?