Sunday, June 29, 2014

One Hundred Years in Sarajevo


Sarajevo, 1984  

It was a moment of hope.
She had been a mystery for a generation,
A forgotten vortex of conflict
Hidden from the “free world”
Behind the cloak of a communist regime.
It was a winter of joy
As the Olympic Games unfolded
In a land that had become exotic by her absence
From the world stage of events.
Now that land was hopeful with her reentry,
Standing center stage in the grand beauty and pageantry
Of peaceful games.

Yet in that moment
She stood less than a decade away
From the devastation that would come.
The unraveling occurred from 1992 to 1995;
11,000 lives would be lost
Due to deeply divided loyalties
And the ripping away
Of the thin veneer of civilization
That had been her glory.

In that same moment
She also stood but seven decades beyond
The unyielding and tragic events
That had brought untold misery to a continent
And violence on a scale unseen until that time.
Shots fired by a young Bosnian Serb in 1914
Began “The Great War,” “The War to End All Wars.”
Labels for that war were cruel and hopeful
Like language that sidesteps reality
To numb the living.
The world saw 17 million deaths,
20 million more wounded
And the ripping away
Of the thin veneer of civilization
That had been the world’s hope.

Now in this moment 
Twenty years after the Bosnian War,
Thirty years after those hopeful games,
One hundred years after the outbreak of world war
What stories does she foretell?
How long will people suffer
The dread of war?
How soon will we see yet again
The ripping away
Of the thin veneer of civilization
That has been our only solace?

                             ~ Charles Kinnaird





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Photo: Sarajevo View
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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