Under the apricot tree (Chechnya 1990)

Chechnya. 1990.

Under the apricot tree, it was winter.
I have not forgotten the torn linen shirt
That the officer wore in the middle of the fog,
When he refused to kill us all

His brown and red frock coat,
The flowers massacred by the din,
Under the apricot tree, it was a flood of light,
The sky was enraged to see us chained to each other.

The officer threw his weapons
Under the apricot tree, among the white flowers,
A man in black shot his refusal. The hamlet was emptied of his soul
My pandor (musical instrument) made the stars vibrate

The grass lost its perfume of violets,
And I buried the officer according to our rites
By the apricot tree, under a rain of white flowers,
I put brandy in his grave

A blade of wood was stuck in the ground,
It carried a white and red flame
The cracks of the grave lamented
The frost covered the horror, the sky changed color

The peasants resumed their sowing for God
The following summer, a shooting contest took place,
Children played on the blue wall, near the apricot tree,
The officer’s ghost gave one of them a hand to go down

The thunder sounded –
The Prince of Kabadie was there, too
His ghost cheered the officer’s sacrifice
The wind was trying to tear off our eyelashes

The apricot tree cried, in the red night,
The warheads fell like sermons
The mulla hid us in the mosque,
I looked at the sky from the windows – in silence

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