Today is Dario and Malik’s birthday, my twin boys.
I visited their graves. At least I can do that, lay flowers.
Their father, Rahil, was never found. On his birthday
I visit their graves. A part of him lies there.
Had they lived, my boys would be thirty today.
I would have seen them grow into manhood,
Get jobs, meet girls, dance, sing, get married.
I would be a grandmother now, fussing over my grandchildren.
I would breathe in their baby-smell,
Watch them grow, go to the school Dario and Malik attended,
Have fun in a playground filled with other children.
There are fewer schools now, fewer children, a dearth of males.
Ratko Mladic and your cohorts, look what you’ve robbed us of.
When you decided to massacre in cold blood the men and boys
Of Srebrenica, you left us bereft of our bloodlines,
No male to seed our women, give them the gift of motherhood.
After your butchery, the only babies born
Were the offspring of rape, their crazed mothers
Still screaming in their nightmares.
I saw you once, Mladic, a swashbuckling khaki-clad army chief.
It was early summer 1995. By July of that year you had slain my men,
Exterminated the Muslim male population of Srebrenica and beyond.
Now I see your photo as they prepare to take you to The Hague
To be tried as a war-criminal. The swagger is gone. You look frail.
But you lived to be 69, a gift, a right, you denied my boys, my man.
You may be sentenced to prison but it will be a far cry
From the sentence you imposed on the women of Srebrenica
When you slaughtered our men and boys and raped our women,
A desecration so vile as to be incomprehensible,
A violation we still live with, our hearts shaved raw.
© Patricia Mahon
Serbia extradites Ratko Mladic to The Hague
Patricia has been published in Ireland and Spain. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from UCD. She is also a Healing Therapist practicing in Ireland and Spain.