More about the Photo
On March 29, 1999, many thousands of refugees were streaming out of Kosovo following the pullout of international monitors and the subsequent NATO bombings. This photo was taken of a young girl from Pec in western Kosovo, Yugoslavia. She is looking out through the slats of a tractor trailer as they make their way over a mountain road.
Milosevic's campaign of terror against ethnic Albanians was in full swing many people saw their loved ones summarily executed before their eyes and some houses were even being torched with people still inside them. Men and boys were separated from their families and never seen again. This was a very dark time for the human race. Nor is this story fully finished.
(If you would like to read more about the events of this particular time in the conflict, you can still search the San Diego Union-Tribune archive for free (as of this writing; however, they are about to make payment necessary). Search on Kosovo Crisis and the dates March 25, 26, 30, 1999.)
About the Poem
One terrible week last year, when I saw this photo and read about what was happening, I heard the poetic voice (my muse) speaking the lines of this poem. I hurried to write the lines down and found the act of writing was helpful in dealing with my sadness and outrage. The poem comforted me as I tried to imagine the unimaginable - the effects of this war on the children who were its witness.
I hoped this act of writing would also be a way to reach out to those who were and are still suffering in the Balkans and around the world however small a thing a poem may be.
I encourage you to turn your mind and hand to writing, especially when world events are too terrible to bear. All must somehow be borne. We cannot afford to hide our eyes, turn away, or dull our senses. To do so is to go through life only half-alive, prolonging our own suffering and the pain of the world. Change requires us to see straight-on, with our hearts open. Perhaps children know this instinctively.
God heal all who have been