A bombed out housing estate in Bucha, Ukraine. Image: CTK / Alamy Stock Photo

Poem: ‘A Ukraine Sequence’

April 7, 2022

Their shadows haunt them 

and won’t let go. Their sharp nails 

are embedded in 

their shadow bodies 

and shadow selves. Their long day 

is full of shadows. 

They are us. They glow 

furiously in the night 

casting fierce shadows 

that consume the world. 

Once they had begun  

they found it hard to stop. Time  

rolled into a ball  

and ran down the hill  

of its intentions, crushing  

those in its steep path,  


through cities. Time was fiercer,  

having grown larger 

and far too heavy. 

Where is life? What spot 

of earth is ready for it?

Is it sheltering

in a burning house? 

Is it setting fire to its 

own lost furniture?

Is it on the moon, 

bathed in silver, listening 

to the stunned stars? Where 

might it be going? 

We read one small word  

After another. How slight  

And ineffectual  

they seem. Only words,  

we say (in words). Waste of breath.  

A case of breathing  

meaning into air  

as if air could hold meaning.  

Yet something hangs there  

much like a person.  

What we remember  

is not the long queue of tanks  

but the lone figure  

standing before them,  

figures waiting in doorways,  

figures at windows,  

figures in shadows,  

watching, preparing to die  

on their own pavements  

as the tanks roll in.