HOW IT IS by Tatiana Retivov


And then came the rain
and you wondered
if that was a light
at the end of the tunnel?
Or was it just
an expiring cruise missile
on the Left Bank
of the Dnieper River.

In the corner of your eye
an antimissile aircraft
immediately intercepted it,
you merely blink your awe away.
Meanwhile, the honeysuckle blooms
profusely this summer, as if
making up
for time lost. Yours and mine.

Writing this with pen and paper
in the split seconds of
one air-raid siren after another
cautioning you to retire
to your useless lair
in between your tiled
woodstove and the marble
kitchen countertop

you squeeze in and adjust
the pillows on the floor,
you proceed to scan
the telegram channels
for the various city alerts
to find out whence
each missile was launched:
the Caspian or Black Sea,

Belarus, Belgorod or Kherson.
Does it really make a difference?
The time span might be critical.
You pray for divine intervention.

* * *

“To Carthage then I came,
where a cauldron of unholy loves sang all about mine ears.”
— St. Augustine’s Confessions

The buzzing sound of bees
above the treetops,
still digesting the nectar
of May flowers
in anticipation
of May Day or is it
already Bloomsday?
Its Centennial.

And here I sit
an old friend
who did not live
to see this war
end as per Cato’s
incantation: and btw,
must be destroyed.

Tatiana Retivov is a poet, translator, and publisher in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she has hosted a literary art salon since 2012. She studied writing and English Literature at the University of Montana, Missoula and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Photo by Elizabeth Simmons-O’Neill.