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Wednesday, March 23, 2022


by Frederick Wilbur

Drawing by Zhenia Grebenchuk, 13, who fled Cherkasy, Ukraine, with his younger sister and mother, Tanya. His father took them to the bus and then returned home. Tanya said she and her children planned to wait out the war in Poland. Zhenia hoped it would only be a matter of weeks before Ukraine wins and he can kick around his soccer ball at home with friends again. —The Washington Post, March 15, 2022

They hear the drone of planes
like the chorus of evil angels.
They do not raise their eyes.
But with their lives in skulls
and backpacks, their feet follow
the single file person before them,
freedom stitched to sleeves.
It could be anywhere—
distant curve of horizon or jungled
too thick for a view.
I cannot say I have worn out shoes,
or begged for shelter—
my anguish is not their anguish,
my hunger is not theirs.
Arrogance and greed for power
cannot live among them,
their power is to survive—
survival may not be enough
until they cross the border
that cannot be seen.

Frederick Wilbur's poetry collections are As Pus Floats the Splinter Out and The Conjugation of Perhaps.