By Tetiana Hladysh
Translation: Hanna Komar, John Farndon

when she gets old
and goes crazy
she’ll dream of the red cat
she left in the house
under the shelling

she will dream every night
that she fell on the floor
on her frail bones
covering her head with her hands
and calling
her cat’s name

her shrill burnt scream
will wake up everyone in another house
will shatter their peaceful sky
because red cats
remain living there
where rockets and bombs whistle
where war got stuck
in the heart

that dark cold winter
you brought me milk and bread
I opened the door for you
because the only thing we wanted
that dark winter
was to have each other

your hands smelled like warmth
and you listened, and something from the Scorpions
reached the ear from the depth of the room
you must have heard
how in the depths of mine
a door was also opening

the city came to life then
just like the light in the windows came to life
just like the washing machines and telephones turned on
water gurgled in the taps
it didn’t know yet
if spring would come…

it didn’t know yet
that when spring comes
you will find me
in someone else’s tiny kitchen
a lump of frozen earth
which you will call by name

and I will exhale
all the cold on your shoulder
while something from the Scorpions
reaches the ear from the depths of the room
while you hold me close
breathe yourself into me

while we are real and alive
and we have each other

we came from those lands
where as children we belonged everywhere
where an aunt exhausted from work
sat us on high wooden stools
poured us full plates of borshch
and said: you must eat it all

then she allowed us to pick cherries –
just don’t eat the green ones –
while she herself made us swings and shacks
it was worth the effort
for she smiled as she listened
as we sang, swinging higher and higher

and most of all at that moment
it wasn’t the swings and the heights
nor our songs heard by the entire street
we liked but our aunt’s tired smile
which beamed round the corner of the summer kitchen
and made us belong everywhere