No War

The field is an area in Germany with a 280 m peace sign. It is aligned in such a way that it is in the approach route of the aircraft to the airport in Bremen. The mark will remain for about 2 months, then corn will grow over it.

You’re standing with a “No war” sign as if indulging
the inevitable: this war can’t be stopped,
like bright arterial blood from an open wound
it flows till it kills,

it enters our cities with the armed men,
seeps into our courtyards with the reconnaissance units,
like deadly mercury beads that can’t be put back,
you can’t fix it, except to find and neutralize it,
these civilian managers, clerks, IT-guys and students,
life didn’t prepare them for street fights, but the war did,
on the frontline, in a painfully familiar landscape, in a hurry
at first, they only recruit experienced combat fighters to the defense units,
after that gamers who play Dune and Fallout,
or maybe if you’ve had a short course in Molotov cocktails from a bartender you know,
at the local club, while the kids are asleep, the kids are crying, the kids are being born
into a world temporarily unfit for life
Out on the playground, they’re assembling Czech hedgehogs,
and nuclear families are mixing deadly “drinks.”
whole families, finally enjoying a conversation
and a collective project—war shortens the distance
from person to person, from birth to death,
from what we never wished for—
to what it turned out we were capable of
“Mom, pick up the phone,” a woman’s been pleading for two hours in the apartment building basement,
stubborn and dense, she won’t stop believing in a miracle
but her mother is out of cell phone range, in the suburbs,
where the prefab collapsed like cheap Legos
from the massive strikes, where just yesterday broadcast towers
stopped connecting people, where the world got blown up into pre-and post-war
along the uneven fold of the “no war” sign,
which you’ll toss in the nearest trash,
on your way home from the protest, Russian poet,
war kills with the hands of the indifferent
and even the hands of idle sympathizers.

By Halyna Kruk Translated from the Ukrainian by Amelia Glaser and Yuliya Ilchuk.

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