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today, I was halted by a lad from defence,

a lad so young, so delicate, who said:

“Sorry, you’re from here?”…

well, my fault, I should change that terrible habit --

wander through the evening,

with no kid, no dog, no companion – all alone.

“Well, yes. I’m local, I’m heading home”.

but in truth, it’s just that I took a stroll,

I’m breathing spring freshness,

enjoying my solitude.

but for him to know all that – will it do any good?

for a lad, Ruslan’s his name, he himself saying

(his hand stretched in invitation for shaking)

for a lad trained to be suspicious of strangers,

those, whose ethnic identity raises questions,

they carry guns up their sleeves,

they carry stones in their fists,

a lad on duty with the yellow patch,

a lad visibly excited:

“yesterday, a saboteur was held,

right on this site.

right by my hands – here, take a look!”

and shows me his smartphone

there – a guy, with a bushy beard.

but for me – I am much too flustered

to show any interest, excitement,

or just human compassion.

the siren above us is wailing, wailing, and wailing…

he asked me, if I wasn’t cold, if I shouldn’t be guided:

Home: I said “No..”

was it shyness, weakness or straps of age-old fear:

for a man to overpower a woman, a delirious joy of being near.

Ruslan, do not allow the smallest doubt to creep into:

I’m grateful,

my guardian friend, I’m grateful,

Ukrainian warrior, I’m praying.

I’m praying for you.

I’ll give you my blood if needed,

and the women like me – hundreds, thousands, million,

that’s what makes you invincible,

that’s what makes us invincible,

that’s what makes their defeat irreversible

that’s why the Ukrainian spring’s budding with power,

that‘s what keeps me alive, feeds my life desire:

that’s why I’m grateful for a chance to believe

a stale bread roll, a shy pray, a piece of wire

will save someone,

that's why I’m grateful for the chance to feel I’m in.

March 11, 2022

Ukrainian Text by Ulyana Halych, translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Mar 25, 2022

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