The Woman Sits Down
The woman sits down in front of the computer, sets everything up carefully:
Kleenex, headphones, pain reliever, sleeping pill and sedative.
Watching the news today is like going out on the street in Kharkiv.
A glass of wine is also needed, if all the other stuff isn’t enough.
The woman checks the usual pages, reads the poems,
She takes off her glittering helmet, picks up the brush to smooth her feathers.
Sure, she would still like to live as she did before,
but one February morning she woke up as a Valkyrie.
This Valkyrie has a pair of wings, large and heavy as hell,
keeping up with them is hard: cleaning, oiling, getting them serviced.
They could have lifted souls and carried them into heaven,
instead, she flies off with children, medicine and, shit, even ambulances!
In short, beautiful wings, functioning, though a bit broken
Always used to protect, sometimes they don’t click just right.
It’s a pity they can’t be patched up with armor plates
The woman picks up a needle, thread, makes a face and starts sewing.
The soft beep of Messenger alerts her that she got a new message — — —
The boss is angry, annoyed that once more she didn’t meet her quota.
Of course, Aso, you asshole, I disappointed you again, I’m very tired.
Sorry, but the Ragnarok is here and now, and we need them alive.
What could they be doing in your Valhalla: are they getting shit faced drunk?
They’ll tear your Asgard to pieces, stone by stone, you sure know that.
Will they keep quiet and watch dead children, ruined fields, burnt houses?
Go ahead fire me if you want, but for now, they’ll be delayed.
The woman receives a request from Mavka and replies to her friend,
who recently replaced the Gorgon and is getting useful skills.
Both dream of finally creating a unit of their own.
So they can kick all that scum out of Ukraine, send them packing to hell.
That Gorgon, before being raped, was named Circe.
Now she has a stony gaze and deadly vipers on her head.
So far, she is the one winning the fight against all those fake Perseus,
even if those bastards try to kill her, every day.
The woman transcribes all items needed and other requests, closes the files.
She already got fifteen orders from Asgard, what is she to do with them?
She thinks: “How nice: I have lost seven kilos since the end of February,
tomorrow I’ll be able to fly higher, protecting our own better.
Trans. Note: This poem was written in Ukrainian. My English translation is from a recent Italian translation by Marina Sorina. A “Mavka” is a character from Ukrainian folklore, a kind of mermaid who lives in the woods. Girls who die before being baptized are believed in the folk tradition to be transformed into Mavkas.—PP
Inna Romenska, a Ukrainian poet living in the current warzone, writes of herself and her life: “I am not a poet. I am 48 years old, married, mother of two daughters and owner of five cats. I have a Master’s degree from Kharkiv University and now I teach history to children because I really like it. For me, the war with russia [sic] started in 2014, and I have been actively volunteering with my friends since the first day of the invasion. Because I was born and raised in Luhansk, where I still have friends, I helped them to leave the occupied territories for Ukraine. What they told me was horrible. Therefore, I was not surprised by the horror that happened in Bucha, Gostomel, Irpin, Chernihiv, Izium. There have always been killings and abuses of civilians in any territories occupied by rashists.* The war has affected me personally, because our family lived in Kharkiv, and my mother and all my relatives are from Izyum. Now we are forced to leave the city because it is being bombed by rashists every day. So far we have found shelter in Portugal, and we are very grateful for the help of other countries in Europe. It is very important that people know the truth, despite the constant lies and propaganda from russia.”
*[Translator’s note: “Rashists” is a disparaging word used by Ukrainians to describe Russians, a portmanteau word of “Russian,” “racist” and “fascist” that pre-dates the February 24, 2022, invasion, but has gained renewed traction over the past months. It has become particularly popular among Ukrainians in response to Putin’s groundless justification of his war being based on his ‘mission’ to de-nazify Ukraine. In the same spirit, the word ‘Russia’ (above) is never capitalized.—Pina Piccolo]