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Poetry

February 23, 2022

Danyil Zadorozhnyi considers the threat and reality of wartime displacement in this poem whose title speaks to W. H. Auden's "September 1, 1939."

“trees—that’s what I lack most of all,” she says
“you have so few of them here in Lviv
Donetsk, though, was a green city
greenery all around”

but I didn’t know that
I was young, never spent much time there,
never valued people or the county until after it happened

“second time I’ve lost my home,” she utters with hatred
“officially, this time”

and I get her
and I don’t
hugging her

my mom’s concerned there’ll be tons of internally displaced persons
where will we put them all up, she asks
I don’t mind, but I don’t have any space
except in your room, if you want

containing my emotions, I elect empathy, saying
I get you
but it’s too early to talk about that
though I actually think it’s too late
if we’re only talking about this now
so, being kind constantly is very hard, tricky
but easy and at times the only thing someone can want

and if the war, not just any war, came to our home
and we had to flee to another city in another part of the country
I’d like to be helped there
not for the people there to make xenophobic comments on the internet
trying to catch my kids speaking the wrong language
twisting my wife’s tongue—she’s from Belarus, for heaven’s sake, seeking shelter here

if only I had the money to rent three of the four rooms in the apartment
with old landlords and Soviet furniture


© Danyil Zadorozhnyi. Translation © 2022 by Yuliya Charnyshova and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler. All rights reserved.

English

“trees—that’s what I lack most of all,” she says
“you have so few of them here in Lviv
Donetsk, though, was a green city
greenery all around”

but I didn’t know that
I was young, never spent much time there,
never valued people or the county until after it happened

“second time I’ve lost my home,” she utters with hatred
“officially, this time”

and I get her
and I don’t
hugging her

my mom’s concerned there’ll be tons of internally displaced persons
where will we put them all up, she asks
I don’t mind, but I don’t have any space
except in your room, if you want

containing my emotions, I elect empathy, saying
I get you
but it’s too early to talk about that
though I actually think it’s too late
if we’re only talking about this now
so, being kind constantly is very hard, tricky
but easy and at times the only thing someone can want

and if the war, not just any war, came to our home
and we had to flee to another city in another part of the country
I’d like to be helped there
not for the people there to make xenophobic comments on the internet
trying to catch my kids speaking the wrong language
twisting my wife’s tongue—she’s from Belarus, for heaven’s sake, seeking shelter here

if only I had the money to rent three of the four rooms in the apartment
with old landlords and Soviet furniture


© Danyil Zadorozhnyi. Translation © 2022 by Yuliya Charnyshova and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler. All rights reserved.

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