Monday, March 14, 2022

How Spring Comes in Ukraine (Poem)

How Spring Comes in Ukraine
Is this how spring comes —
the neck of the sunflower
broken, vipers escaping
from behind museum glass?
A warm spell has followed
the first days of Lent
preceding the first days of war. 

Maria Prymachenko has stopped
making pictures.
In Kyiv, her yellows and blues
fall from the eyes
of two-headed chickens.

The shelling makes even
her eared beasts to lie down.

Things no longer go well
here. The villain speaks with
his claw of iron,
hobbling the painter's hand.

Her canvases aflame,
the arsonist moves west,
ash just another mark
on the foreheads of soldiers.
Yes, peace talks
amid the mayhem,
and lynching's finally a hate
crime in America.
Listen, there are rumors
of prayers.
Below no no-fly zone
even some Russians flee
when bombs grow instead
of flowers


The last words in italics are the title of a painting by Maria Prymachenko (1909-1997), a self-taught, Ukrainian folk art painter. Some dozens of Prymachenko's paintings were destroyed when the museum in which they were housed (Ivankiv Local History Museum) was burned to the ground. See Rebecca Bengal's article "Russian Forces Destroyed the Wild and Beautiful Art of Maria Prymachenko", Vice, March 1, 2022; and Jasmine Liu, "Ukraine Accuses Russia of Burning Down a Museum", Hyperallergic, February 28, 2022.

Also see: Emily Cochrane, "Congress Gives Final Approval to Make Lynching a Hate Crime", The New York Times, March 7, 2022.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

So sad. Thank you for your poem.