By Elina Sventsytska 
Translation: Hanna Komar, John Farndon


I read the news – and suddenly
Something’s wrong with me:
I have claws growing,
I have fangs growing,
a shell is growing on my back,
and around me – black earth.
and not blood – a lamenting flame,
and not a body – but wild flesh,
and not a heart – a burnt tree,
and not a brain – a den of snakes.
how should I live now?
how not to be horrified?
God forbid, children will see –
how should they be around me then?
how should I live now?
…as if I knew this before.


Give back, give back my burned-out house to me
give back, give back my warm skin to me –
they stayed there, in the distance, amid native hell,
my red heart is pounding deep in there as well.

This is the last roadblock. And your pass is as valid as pain,
because in the end you must get home, behind the grate,
to your relatives and the poor, where mould dissolves in the silence again.
No way you can live there. You can only wait, and wait, and wait.

There, life flies away like a bird with the morning rain,
There, grief hides in the night like a mouse underground silently
and falls asleep. And only in feeble dreams’ domain –
there is a cemetery around the Donetsk Sea.

Our roads home now are as frightening as fairy tales.
An indifferent path – from love to murder – lies on the ground
and no one hears. For the motherland, our bones wail.
And life is already over. And childhood comes round.

I pray for those on the road and moving
on the winding path that squeals and groans,
on the night-track to the unknown leading,
to a foreign world, to nowhere known.

I pray for all those homeless, humble,
for all overcome by sleep and tears…
as sirens wail over the wounded angel,
and in the sky the border veers,
winding into the bitter distance like a string.
and there is no place for the flesh of innocents.
over the wounded world a sleepless glowing
and over the wounded angel the Lord laments.

with iron and smoke, the air’s infected
and like an open cut the earth is sore.
I pray for those who are not protected
by arms that hug us from afar.
the world’s crossed with tape as I look out
through my window. It’s war; that’s how it must be.
and the trees and mountains are calling out:
“come back to us.
come soon please”


And no one stood on the bridge of helpless people,
there was a place left for us, who knows why…
and rifles cry like thunder, fierce happiness grows,
so you can hide from it only in the darkness of the attic.

And it is not tears that move in the heart, but night fishes
catching with their tails the broken steel strings,
a heavy fog hangs over the mournful square,
and this country, nervous and young, wanders all night.

You are not a woman, you are a quiet teenager, the truth is sad.
What are you doing in this world? What should you do?
We wake up in the morning – it’s a pandemic and war again,
and we wake up at night – again a pandemic with war.

Again, the last marshrutka floats in the smoke-filled air,
and to live life is to cross an onion field.
This blue bird is your raggedy future,
this stray dog is your inexorable past.

Where is it, this paradise in a barn, that saints fly to?
And what deep pits did we fill with our own blood?
And why does our path go on freezing from woe after woe?
Our gentle betrayals are chasing after us with love.

Our souls are small and ringing, the fever shakes,
we hide in our houses – plywood fortresses.

We need sweets so we can nurture our children.
We need sweets so we can nurture the dead.