CALLING HOME

'How can we kill them—they look like us'. —soldier in Ukraine


An old man, who limped like uncle Alexi, stumbled, and we shot him. He had a gun, yes, but he wore a cap like the one you knit for me. One wore a coat like father’s, he tumbled off a bridge into the river. When I shot one running into the forest, his hands flew up like brother Oleg, twitching. I remember grandfather Sasha shouting when he was disturbed too early, before his tea. Here a greybeard shouted as we passed, and my commander shot him on his doorstep. One my age, when he was hit, cried out “Arina!” Who will have to tell her? If I die, who will tell you? I can’t sleep. I see these faces everywhere. When my gun is cold, I am afraid. When it is hot, I am ashamed. What will happen to children here, like our Slava, Vasyl, Ksenia? And if I live, after I have a hero’s welcome, tell me, mother, after you hold me in your arms, what will happen to me?


Kim Stafford —from Poets Respond March 2, 2022 

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