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Sunday, March 20, 2022


by Eugene Datta                                           


Photograph by Jérôme Sessini / Magnum for The New Yorker, March 7, 2022

He was going away; he was leaving 
Irpin—his suitcase still upright, waiting—
a trustful dog next to the master’s body:
the hand that held it, half-open, blood-
smeared, the right foot pointing away. 
Who’s the one lying close by? A friend? 
A brother? A co-escapee? Half-covered, half 
on the sidewalk, across curbstones painted 
yellow and white, plastic waste strewn 
around. What’s on the mind of the soldier 
kneeling on the monument? Head bowed
in grief, flag in hand, flowers in front of him, 
two bodies behind—it’s much harder, he’s 
learned the hard way, to do good than bad; 
so many more ways for things to go wrong 
than right. Three men with bags in hands 
leaving now—lucky to be late, to be in time, 
lucky to be leaving. A willow weeping 
behind a shattered roof, a slate-gray sky 
crisscrossed by overhead lines—
a farewell exhaled in haste covering the body, 
the suitcase still upright, waiting—

Eugene Datta's writing has appeared in The New Verse News, Poetry Bay, the Richmond Review, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, West Coast Line (currently Line), and Poetry Salzburg. He lives and works in Aachen, Germany.