Sunflower
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I stand at the Atlantic’s salted edge, sand and soil

far emptier than chernozem, the loam I come from

harvests enough wheat to last six months

of winter. Dear Ukraine, your earth hasn’t known

a thirst like this one since the frozen-hunger.

What right do I have to call for you

across the water? To metaphor you

in season and bloom. To mourn with you

the way my people do, whole bodies

wailing, tearing off our clothes, beating

the ground, our fists— mouths full of dirt—

inching closer to our dead.

                                                     Dear Ukraine,

I'm so far from your earth, your dead,

your suffering, you’re suffering, you are and I

am words but there are no contraction

in Ukrainian so let me break them here for you

my dear, dear Ukraine, though language isn’t

what you need, you are—ty ty ty—far

and I am far and we are far and this is not

enough. This salted page. Far and foreign. Still,

I reach for you, Ukraine—forgive my longing.

This expanse is nothing 

                                                 but a singing wound.

Forgive its music as you burn and bleed and I drive 

my children to daycare and sob in my car

then go on with the day while you tug and tear

at me, Ukraine—thorn, anchor, stone, seed.

My people put stones on graves to weigh

the body to the earth while the spirit rises.

I'll scatter seeds and seeds for you.

Take shelter here, Ukraine, if only

in this insufficient song and soil, in this

unworthy body, if only for a moment, take

shelter here. Your sunflowers will rise

across the water, sonyashnyky, in your own tongue,

fields and fields, ablaze.

                                              Dear Ukraine, they’ll burn

anyone who dares to cut them down.