By Nadiya Havryliuk
Translation: Hanna Komar, John Farndon

– Don’t hurry me. Hold on for now.
Once I find the key I’ll go.
Bit by bit, my time runs down.
– I need the key. – There’s no door, old man, no.

There’s just the one wall left –
Shell shattered and beset.
– A happy memory holds me here.
Don’t hurry me. Not my time yet.

A black eye socket for a window now
And next door a crater’s torn apart,
And I have really no idea how:
To find the key in the house of the heart.


Bombs are falling, falling, falling.
In your chest, your heart pounds. Fear!
Time has stopped. As if we’re stalling
In February still. Still in tears.

Artillery pushes on the fighting.
Feel it – the ground shakes and shunts.
I was at the rear. Now I’m standing
Just ten kilometres from the front.

What’s that? Is it enemy salvoes?
A plane? Or just a thunderstorm?
Where now is that far tomorrow?
This day will last forever more.

The wind is scattering everything
A noisy: ‘Boom…boom…bomb’
Again, it seems like Dante’s rings –
A brief silence: all ears you become.
How sure and sweet sparrows sing too
Stubbornly burbling ‘cheep, cheep.’
They alone serve to remind you:
“Tomorrow’s spring. Let’s greet it.’


They pleaded for a dome of iron
But the sky’s dome of light blue
Was pierced by enemy missiles,
Not spring’s thunder, in April.

A fiery fountain burst down
Shaking the concrete crown
Children crying all round –
How can they sit underground?

Tanya wept and fell calm, drooping…
The last drop of water falling –
A droplet of life. A dome.
Bitter, steadfast Mariupol home.


There has been such immeasurable pain:
As flinty Kremenchuk cries out again,
Soft sobs in Ivankiv as shreds fly,
Borodyanka’s murdered mutely cry,
And the hardly heard, muffled moan
Of Hostomel’s abused pleading alone
And butchered, blood-drenched Bucha bawls –
Begging heaven’s revenge. Inevitably. All.
Every day a city struck. An alphabet of agony.
A sickened world with teeth clenched tightly.


“Khak khak”, the Kalashnikov cackled
As they came out of Nova Kakhovka:
The family just wanting to bolt…
Their car shot through… a vicious assault.

Little Sofiyka, just six years of age
Dreamed of dancing with Ivas, her brother
When he’s old enough. But Russian rage
Ruins all. Kills children, one after another.

Kills their parents, and grandma too…
Little Ivas’s last yell is erased
And where children’s laughter should echo –
Madonna of Ukraine with mournful face.


“It’s not yours. So what? You take it,“
That’s the devil’s children’s stamp.
Like him, they kill and steal and fake it.
And set up their filtration camps.

Like liquids, they filter people out –
Strain them through their own design,
And end up with one essential thought:
They don’t give a damn about truth, any time.

All happy life is poisoned this morning
All that’s left is the abyss’s spawning.