These poems were read in Ukrainian by Oksana Stomina and in Italian by Marina Sorina, in six venues during the tour “Piantare un fiore nella terra bruciata (Planting a flower in the scorched earth) which took place in Italy between November 19 and 24.
Letters to those in captivity
Dedicated to my husband Dmytro Paskalov
My love, you live in February and I in September.
Since that abyss opened between us,
Thunderous the days go by, alarms, people,
Flowing between disappointment and despair.
Between us is the usual ‘towards nothingness’
made of glass that could shatter, anytime
This road is too long and painful,
Too great is our distance, unsteady is the earth,
But I persist in casting spells for you, I keep living
Tenaciously kissing your thoughtful eyes,
Forever begging God to be on our side in this war.
The distance between us is measured in sleepless nights,
Scars on the heart and whitening temples,
But the sunflower of hope, bright and strong,
Keeps on blossoming and stretching its leaves to the sky,
like the one that growing on my balcony.
You’ll be back soon, my love, and you’ll see it for yourself!
THE DUCK’S LAMENT
Dedicated to those killed in their own homes
The gloomy sky secretes the morning in drops.
A wound gashes open in the body of the building across the street.
Passes through it the sun reach us, here.
Helpless I continue to dream this nightmare.
I can hardly believe what my eyes see.
Above the building opposite, the sad wail of a duck…
That building was hit in the chest.
As late as yesterday ordinary people lived there,
A variety of them, totally alive. Sometimes, even happy.
Go away, plaintive duck, don’t tear my heart apart!
It’s where blameless people dwelt: let
their souls soar high above their house!
Do not darken the sky from them, treacherous bird!
It is too late to spread your wings above their roof!
Mothers won’t be able to mourn them,
Wives won’t be able to retrieve them.
Too many of them to record their names.
Away from prying eyes they’ll be buried,
Some will receive medals for their deaths.
And they… their souls soaring over the burned city.
Their bodies scattered on the ground, like a torn necklace.
They have filled this empty, hopeless May.
Dandelions are already blooming next to them and grass is advancing.
The wind cradles them in vain, the sun touches them.
They are discovered and collected, like mushrooms or flowers.
Silent “losses” completely anonymous.
Removed from the streets to maintain decorum,
Loaded into sacks with their eyes open,
closing them is too much work.
It’s not a burial: it’s the concealment of a crime.
Oksana Stomina born in Mariupol and currently forced to live abroad, is a poet, writer and human rights activist. She is also an organizer for many social, literary, legal and charitable projects, winner of the Yuri Kaplan Literary Prize and the Slavic Traditions Literary Prize. Author of several collections on the war in Ukraine: ATOmy of destiny , Close to war. Ukrainian Diaries (translated into English and Lithuanian), War Comes Uninvited (translated into German).
Author of interactive guides to Mariupol for children and adults: A walk with Marik and A wonderful journey with Marik and Marichka , as well as collections of fairy tales and poems: Secrets of the old wall , Letter to an adult , Unexpected poems , About the living .
Marina Sorina, freelance writer, translator and interpreter, tour guide. Born in Kharkiv and resident in Italy since 1996, she earned a doctorate in comparative literature at the Romance Philology Department of the University of Verona. Vice-President of the Malve Association of Ukraine. Her latest collection of short stories is titled Storie dal planet Veronetta (Between the lines Ed., Lucca, 2018).
Cover artwork: Claudia Raza “Il grido della terra”