Anastasia Yalanskaya, Ukraine, March 2022
When the sky refused to stay whole,
when it burst into flames,
a migraine of bombs and missiles
three days in a row, they urged her
to evacuate. She ran
her fingers through thick brown hair.
Insisted, I want to help.
You, though, you feel helpless
and distant. And there’s dinner to make.
She said, We are not afraid
as black boots commanded the streets,
ordinary streets, neighborhood streets,
where a cat sat in the window of a brick home,
half the roof blown away.
It’s past time to get out, she was told.
But the children, she said.
40 children left without food
at the daycare center. They clapped
when she arrived with bread and cucumbers,
pirozhki, diapers, blankets, even
a cannister of milk, a carton of cookies.
If you have children, aren’t they well-fed?
Maybe they’re grown.
Perhaps you have a daughter,
20 years old, 25, blooming with health
and confidence. Like Anastasia.
Now it’s really time to go,
they told her, and she admitted
she was tired. They blew up the bridge,
the one I walked on yesterday. We’ll have to
find another way. What’s to be done
with one so stubborn?
Maybe you’ve said that about your own child,
when she was three and had to wear
the rubber boots and tattered tutu
day after day.
Anastasia’s clothes were dusty,
but her smile was hard to resist.
We’ve run out of food for dogs at the shelter,
someone told her. Three days they’ve gone without.
For years a feisty little dog,
one ear up, the other undecided,
trotted at her heels. Curled up near her
at night. So she scoured the city, found a way
to get boxes of kibble to the shelter.
The dogs were fed.
Well, you know the rest.
This is a war poem.
Ginny Lowe Connors is the author of four full-length poetry collections,
including her latest book, Without Goodbyes: From Puritan Deerfield to
Mohawk Kahnawake (Turning Point, 2021). Her chapbook, Under the Porch, won
the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize, and she has earned numerous awards for
individual poems. She is co-editor of Connecticut River Review and runs a
small poetry press, Grayson Books.