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Friday, June 03, 2022


by Wendy Hoffman

About 800 people, including children, are hiding beneath a chemical factory in the key eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, now 80% held by Russian troops, as more western allies promise additional missile systems and arms to Kyiv. Photograph: Families sheltering beneath the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk earlier in the war. Credit: Marko Đurica/Reuters via The Guardian, June 2, 2022.

Amid mounting fears over the war’s impact on world food supplies, Putin is due to meet the head of the African Union, Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, on Friday to discuss “freeing up stocks of cereals and fertilisers,” Sall’s office said. The meeting, in the south-western Russian city of Sochi, was organised at the Kremlin’s invitation, Dakar said. Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat and other cereals to Africa, while Russia is a key producer of fertiliser. —The Guardian, June 2, 2022

An operation to bring grain out from Ukraine through Lithuania, with considerable political hurdles, is just one option being considered amid warnings of mass starvation around the world. —The New York Times, June 1, 2022

I buy bread from a Ukrainian shop.
He bakes, his wife takes orders.

Fridays, they sell Miche,
Wednesdays, Levain.

Today her face is blanched wheat,
a baked skull.

She stops wearing make-up,
her hair shows grey.

She never talks much.
She has no words.

Their families remain there—
probably old Nazis—

as Russia conscripts its minorities,
its refugees and now its citizens

of all ages to destroy and die.
The world sacrifices

the earth that feeds us,
that once seeded land now skeleton.

Her hunched over husband sweats,
pounds moist dough.

I hand her thirteen US dollars,

she closes the window.

Wendy Hoffman has published three memoirs, The Enslaved Queen, White Witch in a Black Robe, and in 2020 A Brain of My Own.  The Enslaved Queen has been translated into German. Her book of poetry Forceps was also published along with a book of essays, From the Trenches, written with Alison Miller. Her most recent memoir After Amnesia is published on the SmartNews and Survivorship websites. It has been translated into German. What gives her life meaning is helping other surviving victims.