Marietta McGregor


Soft rain like a child’s tears falls on the martyr village of Oradour-sur-Glane, near Limoges in central France. The site of a World War II German retaliation against the partisan French, its narrow streets curve into thin mist, tram lines sag between poles and cars rust in yards, glass and rubber broken and perished away. Meadow grass grows through the rusted wrought-iron frame of a baby’s buggy. Vines lace together lost fragments of once-peaceful lives.
scarce tobacco rations for the old men summer war

Saturday late morning, June 10 1944. Lunchtime in the countryside, subdued because of nearby conflict. There was no warning. Nazi soldiers entered the village, sealed it off, rounded up 642 inhabitants, shot the men and burnt the bodies. Five escaped, along with several children whose parents desperately urged them to hide – under stairs, in a cellar, in a field. Women and children who were not fortunate enough to conceal themselves were locked in the church and shot. The church was set ablaze. One woman survived. Seeing her daughter shot dead, she climbed onto the altar and threw herself through a window, then buried herself in a dirt furrow in a field of peas.
saints lacking eyes the bronze bell melts into silence

After the war, General Charles De Gaulle decreed that the village would never be rebuilt, but should stand as an eternal memorial. A new Oradour was built nearby, the old left as a ghostly shell. A stark museum enshrines the words of philosopher Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
her rusted sewing machine newly threaded with wild violets

Marietta McGregor is a Tasmanian botanist and journalist who lives in Canberra. Her haiku, haibun and haiga appear in international journals and anthologies, and have been featured on Japanese television. She has gained poetry awards in Japan, the UK, the US and Australia. She belongs to the Australian Haiku Society, the British Haiku Society and the Haiku Society of America.
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Blogger momerath66 said...

This is the most beautiful thing I have ever read. Thank you.

5:28 AM  

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