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Tuesday, March 08, 2022


a triptych for Ukraine, March 2022

by Lana Hechtman Ayers

I. Shush! Don’t Wake Her
See her now,
home from
the cancer ward,
in her own bed
in her own room,
curled around the fuzzy
brown teddy bear nearly
as big as she is at four,
fur of its right ear matted
down from sucking,
emerald neck ribbon frayed,
glossy hazel eyes shining
in the toadstool nightlight’s
amber glow. She sleeps atop the sky
blue coverlet hand embroidered
with sunflowers by her grandmother,
The white nightgown with flourishes
of willow leaves tangles around
her too-thin legs, and one chubby
thumb presses against her lips
that are as rosy as imported
cherries from her last birthday
celebration she dreams of
tasting again. From elsewhere
a clang wakes her and she
reaches for the waning
crescent moon that hangs
in the bedroom window
like one of her mother’s
dangly gold earrings
just as the bombs
begin to fall.
II. Once Upon a Time
Swallow the clatters of war tanks, bullet ratatat's, crashes of broken glass.
Hear to the red smoke as it shrieks down chimneys,
around drafty windows into the house, down the hall to the bedrooms.
Inhale the atonal black fire as it incinerates the fairy kingdoms of childhood to ash.
This is not the bedtime story any parent hopes to tell their children.
Look out your window.
If the night is clear and calm, or
if all that rains down from the sky is water,
ask yourself, how can I help parents in far off lands
find a happily ever after for their children
this one night
to the next?
III. Elegy for War
After the last bombs exploded,
silence deafened
the world for several decades.
People took to speaking
in gestures,
holding arms out in front
of themselves, wide open,
which led to stepping forward
into more hugs,
led to extravagant foraging
for wild berries.
Vehicles of insurgence
morphed into homes for bats
and rats and only grouchy bears
ever ventured near.
NATO transformed into
a travel agency,
with free week-night stays
across Greenwich Mean.
Everyone everywhere
shared recipes for soup.

Lana Hechtman Ayers has shepherded over eighty poetry collections into the world in her role as managing editor at three small presses. Her poems have appeared online at Rattle, Escape Into Life, Verse Daily, and The Poet’s Café, as well as in print journals and her nine published collections.