70 Years Later, Villagers Tell Father Desbois What They Saw in Yaktorov

I was walking with my cows on the meadow when I heard shots in the forest.

The clouds were high, the sky blue.

When they brought the Jews to the pits, a German played his harmonica.

A woman was forced to hold her baby in sight; first they shot the baby, then her.

When it was quiet, I went to have a look.

The pits were nearly filled.

I glanced only for a moment, and then I ran away.

I can’t say whether they were naked or clothed.

The bloody earth moved for three days.

Sometimes the soldiers paid us to bring them the gold teeth and clothing.

A boy from the village was also there.  We stared into the pits.

I remember my Jewish neighbors: Brick, Gorovich, Shurman, and Folst.


The bones of the Jews may not be disturbed; their faith forbids it.

Sometimes there are flowers growing in the fields.


Alicia Elkort’s poetry has been published in AGNI, Arsenic Lobster, Georgia Review, Heron Tree, Menacing Hedge, Rogue Agent, Stirring: A Literary Collection and many others and is forthcoming in Black Lawrence Press. Alicia's poems have been nominated for the Orisons Anthology (2016) and the Pushcart (2017). She lives in California and will go to great lengths for an honest cup of black tea and a cool breeze.