It’s been a while since I posted here, and this bears little relation to work, but much more to life itself.

When this day fell 70 years ago, my uncle had, the previous evening, persuaded his father – my grandfather –  to remove his entire family from this place, as earlier that day he had witnessed a conversation between an Italian partisan and a Nazi officer which made him uneasy, gave him cause for concern. These few words posted here, in the form of a poem, in no way repay the debt we owe to my late uncle, but it’s important never to forget where we are lucky enough to come from. And never to forget those that were not so fortunate.

His Brother’s Keeper.

Some 50 years

After the event

We learned the truth

And it shook us to the core.

Later, asking more of those

Who bore witness –

Lives not taken that day –

They shrugged and said;

“These things…they happen in war”.

 

In shimmering heat, over lunch

Of buffalo mozzarella,

Blood ripe tomatoes,

Bread and red wine –

A communion of sorts –

Detail hovered above the table

Like a hawk waiting to swoop

Knowledge, like the lives acknowledged

Devoured in a moment.

 

On hills attuned to beauty

In a hamlet seeking grace,

Hard men abandoned duty

Defiled God’s sacred place.

The youngest, so young;

The oldest, time left in him yet

Slaughtered both the same

Others too; this, war’s mindset.

 

560 – innocent all: whole families

Women, children, men. Lives taken

Unsure when the sun would rise

Again, over the darkened Tuscan

Hills of Sant’Anna di Stazzema.

 

And so, these years later

Those that lived, and we that live

Remember the names

Remember the place

Remember the day

August 12th, 1944

Remember

‘These things that happen in war.”

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Stefano Cagnoni