Bleak beech wood backdrop,
somewhere east of Warsaw,
The train wheezes to a standstill,
guards, bedraggled Red Army pioneers,
spill onto the trackside, cursing as youths will.
Rifle butts thump on truck walls,
doors slide open, prisoners respond
blinking to their captors’ calls.
A wall of foetid air,
the night’s stinking straw,
no one stops to stare
as the first corpse hits the ground,
not a word is spoken,
all thoughts of it are drowned,
just one more who never made it through the night,
shovelled to one side, left in plain sight,
a reminder of what can happen, or what might.
Some prisoners head for the privacy of trees.
The guards pay no heed.
There is nowhere for anyone to flee.
My grandmother warns her daughters not to stray.
Two cling tightly to her anyway.
What went through the other’s head? Who can say?
Clutching her new found friend by the hand,
she giggled and off, unstoppable, they ran,
oblivious, beyond command.
This was the moment the hawk-eyed pilot chose.
The screaming Stuka stooped, guns ablaze,
scattering a cloud of warning crows.
The guards beat the prisoners back into the train.
The Luftwaffe hero fires again and again.
The gunfire, the screaming, the unbearable pain
Of knowing too late,
as they rumble to safety
two little girls are abandoned to fate.
Back in the forest, the rascals are fine.
They both know where home is -
At the start of the line!
There’s no turning back.
The train’s out of sight.
The two girls turn west to follow the track.
In the gloom of the truck, her face turned to stone,
A mother lies cursing that one child alone,
Praying, for her own sake, that she’s dead and gone.
This is the first in a new series charting where I have come from and telling a story that is long overdue to be told. The picture, taken today, is to celebrate my 64th birthday and that I'm still here to enjoy it!