July 1983

I used to wonder about the Nazi killers,
and those who stood and watched the killing:

does the memory
of so many pleading eyes
stab like lightning through their days and years

and do the voices
of orphaned children
weeping forlornly before dying

haunt their nights?
are their nights sleepless -
has the agony and anguish and

the blood and terror and pain
carved a trail in their brain
screaming: I am guilty. Never again...

Forty years later
once more there is burning
the night sky bloodied, violent and abused

and I - though related
only by marriage -
feel myself both victim and accused,

(black-gutted timber
splinters, shards and ashes
blowing in the wind: nothing remains) -

flinch at the thinnest curl of smoke
shrink from the merest thought of fire
while some warm their hands at the flames.

H. Anne Ranasinghe | 1983


Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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