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Sunday, March 06, 2022


by Ying Wu

A wounded 6-year-old girl arrived at a hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Sunday. Her mother wept outside the ambulance. Her father was at her side, covered in blood. The family was at a supermarket on the outskirts of the southeastern port city when Russian shelling started, according to the Associated Press. Now, a medical team was racing to save the young girl's life. "Take her out! Take her out! We can make it!" a hospital worker shouted. They placed her onto a gurney and wheeled her inside, where doctors and nurses fought to revive her. But she could not be saved. A doctor who was pumping oxygen into her looked into the camera of an Associated Press videojournalist in the room. "Show this to Putin," he said. "The eyes of this child, and crying doctors." Photo credit: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP —CNN, February 28, 2022

You step on the sidewalk.
Life breaks into pieces.
There are segments and thresholds.
Your child collapsed
when the missile exploded.
Your heel strikes the pavement.
Her body is there at the hospital, still—
but now, you’re outside.
Life crosses thresholds.
When your child was born,
you tasted forever.
But the sidewalk is sectioned.
Today, all the sections seem smaller.
Life is unknown.
It breaks into pieces—
and the space between heel strikes
can swallow you whole.

Ying Wu is a cognitive scientist at UC San Diego and executive editor of the Kids! San Diego Poetry Annual.  More examples of her work can be found online at Poetry & Art San Diego, Serving House Journal, Writers Resist, Poetry Pacific, and The New Verse News.  Her work is also featured in a permanent installation at the  San Diego Airport.  She leads research on insight, problem solving, and aesthetic experience and lives with her husband and daughter on a sailboat in the San Diego Bay.