"How much water to the end of this war?": a collection of poems by Kateryna Yehorushkina

Yegorushkina Kateryna
Yegorushkina Kateryna
Writer, fairytale therapist, animation screenwriter
"How much water to the end of this war?": a collection of poems by Kateryna Yehorushkina
Photo: Iryna Dmytrenko-Terefera

In Kateryna Yehorushkina's poems, which were included in the collection "How much water to the end of this war?", memories of the last day before the full-scale Russian invasion and the forced pursuit of shelter in foreign countries and cities are interwoven. Her poems are filled with longing for home, compassion for those who lost a part of themselves in the war, and grief for those whose lives were taken by it – adults and children who will never grow up. Translated by Hanna Leliv.


February 23

My sky is so deep.
Its lips, trembling,
carry the sun to the horizon.
Its hands, warm,
caress the treetops,
swollen with spring
up to the brim,
up to the sound of voice.

My sky
holds peaceful airplanes on its shoulders,
rocks a baby in the pram,
comforts the sick, the lonely,
the desperate.

I want to lean against this sky,
I want to dive deep into it
with my ruffled heart,
planting the seeds of wings inside me.

I want to turn into rays,
caressing the soil
and raising flowers.

holding the borders
and blinding the enemy.

Rays of a letter
with two dots
on its top.

that will never fade.

February 23, 2022. Vyshhorod


How many of us
in winter jackets
in strange springtime towns,
our legs tangled
in our own roots,
searching for a safe place.

How many of us
with hearts that grew
out of our bodies in just one month
and now banging, loud and naked,
toward one another.

How many of us
with rock-solid bodies;
gripped tight with pain;
that used to be flowers,
nurtured with warmth,
fervently loved.

How many of us
walking along the sunbeams.
How many of us
having no right to fall.

March 22, 2022. Kolomyya


To Hołny Lake

I’m swimming to the water poppy to smell it,
as if beauty had a say in anything,
as if it could heal the sky,
and the unknown under my feet.

Tell me, water strider,
how much water is it from this place to my home;
how much water to the end of this war;
how much water between me
and the full stop of death.

Chilly raindrops start falling from the sky.
The water strider hides in the reeds.
I’m reciting my prayer to the water
again and again.
I’m swimming around the water poppy,
as if beauty had a say
in anything at all.

July 2, 2022. Krasnogruda, Poland


Pine trees and lindens here look just like those back home.
Cornflowers in the rye; storks in the meadow.
But I don’t turn off the road,
don’t pick wild strawberries in the woods,
don’t make a wreathe for my daughter,
don’t turn my back
toward the luscious grass
to fall into summer’s embrace.

Everything inside me has been mined,
and I have no idea what to begin with.
With the eyes that saw the war;
with the ears that heard the explosions,
with the body that trembled and fled,
with the language that turned into a minefield:
every word can explode and kill you.
Or, perhaps, with the heart
so full of love
that hatred did not fit inside it,
it never fit inside it – until now.
When will I clear my heart of mines?

July 2, 2022. Krasnogruda, Poland


To the Children of Mariupol

My dear young readers –
only handfuls of dust are left of them.
There’s no one to bury it
and mourn over it.
Tears have been cut off
for invisible sins.
Even the stars are dry,
shining their screeching light,
as if someone is scratching their nails
against the metal door of a basement,
forever locked,
strewn with the rubble
of one’s previous life;
as if someone is screaming
from the inside,
but their voice has dried out
and cracked,
shattering into pieces.

We were so frightened
of horror novels,
horror movies,
and even cartoons
about the past genocides.
We were so frightened of the truth
that we became the truth.
We were frightened of healing the wounds –
and we became wounds.

We were frightened of death –
and now we’re lugging the burden
of survivors.

April 22, 2022. Kolomyya


To all the orphans of the present day

What if I have too much joy inside me
in the times of war?
What if I have too much love?
I could make small pillows
out of it
for the little heads of children
who became orphans today;
large pillows
for the parents who became orphans,
and just a little mattrass
for the orphaned dog.

Those pillows would be like clouds,
so soft like an angel’s shoulder,
so warm like the bodies of the loved ones,
the most precious, the dearest ones,
were just a moment ago.

I would stuff so much love
into those pillows
that all the orphans would see
only good dreams;
so their loved ones could tell them
from the heaven
everything they didn’t have time for;
so they’d pour warmth
from heart to heart
like freshly drawn milk from a jug;
so those pillows would tickle
child’s tender cheeks like mama with her lips,
or dad with his stubble
or dog with his rough tongue;
so everyone would wake up with hope
more powerful than tanks, missiles,
nuclear weapon
or even death.

I stitch invisible pillows
with invisible thread.
I stuff pieces of my heart
inside them
and embroider invisible trusses
of red viburnum
that will never bend down low again.

September 30, 2022. Vyshhorod


To the children who died under the ruins of their homes,
their worlds

Sleep, my little bunny, sleep.
There’s no water here.
No heating.
No hope.
Only my body
holding your paw.
A body that cannot move.
A body that cannot hug.
A body that gave birth to you.

Sleep, my little bunny.
My gray little bunny.
Under the concrete slabs.
Under the bricks and steel.
My sweet dusty little bunny
in your pajamas with puppies
that protected you from nightmares,
the boogie man, and even the witch.

Sleep, my little bunny.
My dear little one.
Listen to this lullaby,
my sweet, dusty bunny.
Sleep deeply,
so you won’t feel cold.

October 27, 2022. Kolomyya


To Volodymyr Vakulenko,
a Ukrainian writer who was killed by Russian occupiers

My country is the most heavily mined,
with the wounded forests and meadows,
and the sunflowers blackened.

"Let us be attentive," the priest says
at the Sunday Mass.
We’re always attentive these days,
on the roads and their sides,
on the banks of rivers and lakes,
and even at the children’s playgrounds.
We’re attentive to the ones who buried hope,
buried themselves or their loved ones,
returned from the war or captivity,
or became the truth sooner than others.

"Let us be attentive," the priest reminds
even those who lost their faith.
Attentive to our children
who mature faster than they grow up,
to our lovers who forgot how to kiss,
to our parents who turned ashy
as if they haven’t seen the sun since February.

"Let us be attentive."
I hear these words again,
and then the rustling in the sky:
flocks of pigeons keep circling
between the sun and the moon,
between me and those watching us from above.
I recall a tender poem by the poet
gone missing.
I’m watching the pigeons
through the salty spray on my glasses,
my lips whispering:
My country is the most heavily mined.
My country is the most heavenly wonderful.

November 12, 2022. Kolomyya – Lviv

january 11, 2023
Tags: #War
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