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  • Writer's pictureNora Curry

Poetry of the Week: Lyuba Yakimchuk

So many of us come to the library because we love words. The stories they create or the truths they tell. The rhythms and joys of language or sometimes even just its blunt ability to share information or a message. Yet sometimes we witness, in our own lives or on the news, things to which it's too hard to give voice. Ukrainian poet Lyuba Yakimchuk has certainly experienced, lived, and witnessed firsthand much that could render one speechless. Born in Luhansk, she has become a well-recognized Ukrainian cultural figure as not only an award-winning poet with numerous volumes under her belt but also as a screenwriter and journalist. Her poetry addresses the devastation of land and person in the Ukraine, speaking directly to both the despair it brings but, in glimmers, offering hope and resilience. Please share today in her poetry below, translated from the Ukrainian, because she has found words where it seems there might be none.

Asylum, a Dance

the apricot tree’s arms are broken her dancing wild the golden sequins rustle like thousands of children armed with bells her head turns with the wind

all the ducks emigrated and even the hen departed in a truck to a far-away land far and away, confirmed an arctic tern which only landed here for a quick transfer

yet my apricot tree isn’t packing its leaves into suitcases even though she does have somewhere to go relatives send her postcards on dandelion fluff offer to help out with a visa

she stands all alone by a slag heap and when the wind comes she does her wild dance as if she’s ready to uproot herself, to fly away to a better life

asylum, a dance desperate and risky as long as an apricot tree root as long as the apricot tree’s very life

- Lyuba Yakimchuk

Image courtesy of Foreign Policy in Focus

He Says Everything Will Be Fine

he says: they bombed your old school he says: food supplies are running out and there’s no money left he says: the white lorries with humanitarian aid are our only hope he says: shells from the white lorries just flew overhead there’s no school any more how can it be that there’s no school? is it empty? is it full of holes, or has it been totally destroyed? what happened to my photo hanging on the roll of honour? what happened to my teacher sitting in the classroom? he says: photo? who gives a damn about your photo? he says: the school has melted — this winter is too hot he says: I haven’t seen your teacher, please don’t ask me to look for her he says: I saw your godmother; she’s no longer with us run away you all drop everything and run away leave your house, your cellar with apricot jam jars and pink chrysanthemums on the terrace shoot your dogs, so they don’t suffer abandon this land, just go he says: don’t talk nonsense, we throw dirt on coffins daily he says: everything will be fine, salvation will come soon he says: the humanitarian aid is on the way

- Lyuba Yakimchuk

Translated from the Ukrainian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky

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