Email from a Cousin in Kyiv
for Olia, after the annexation of Crimea
All is well here in Kyiv;
outside the eastern window
the robins land in a yard of green grass,
and the icicles melt,
and outside the western window
it’s a warzone: yesterday,
we had a government;
we were a country,
and we were Ukrainian, and today
we are “Nazis” and “Fascists,”
but I don’t have to tell you,
dearcousin, because you are Ukrainian;
you know history.
You know how this ends.
I know you do
because even though the men here in Kyiv
call you “dark-eyed beautiful one”—
like in the folk song, remember?—
Even though they call you that, like mine,
your eyes behold our raped grandmothers’ tragedies,
our stabbed, scarred, starved great-grandmothers’ stories
That is why we are mysterious to any man but our fathers,
That is why when others celebrate, we cry,
and that is why even though the bear grips us with his claws
by our throats and shreds our flesh with his teeth
we refuse to die.
Nicole Yurcaba (Ukrainian: Нікола Юрцаба) is a Ukrainian American poet and essayist. Her poems and essays have appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Lindenwood Review, Whiskey Island, Raven Chronicles, West Trade Review, Appalachian Heritage, North of Oxford, and many other online and print journals. Nicole holds an MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University. Nicole teaches poetry workshops for Southern New Hampshire University and works as a career counselor for Blue Ridge Community College.