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In memory of the Ukrainian children, parents, and civilians who have been murdered by Russian troops and Prime Minister Putin during Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine
What can anyone say after seeing
that picture on the front page
of the Sunday NYT today?
How can anyone attend his or her house
of worship and not feel
that he or she should pray,
“Dear God, don’t let me ever hear
someone say I was spared because
You watched over me.”
“No,” says the refugee who just arrived
from the front, “You were spared
because you were lucky the car swerved
out of the way or you ducked
just in time to avoid the shrapnel
that killed the man behind you.”
Or what else?
Ananke’s list is long.
But when you see a mother
and her two children lying dead
beside her on a road after being shot
by a sniper you have to know
that people are horribly free
to damn themselves on Earth,
which is to say, “God damn the sniper
who did this of his own free will
without any help from Ananke
and God damn the heart that forsook itself
for what? Its very own loss?”
As for what never to say, just this:
“He wasn’t thinking, because he was, he was.”
If we’re all supposedly connected
as the prophets say, what razor
can You give me, Lord, to sever me
from that monster who looks too much
like me even from a distance
to appear as someone else at first?
There is no consolation or understanding
or reason or humanity in murder
and infanticide, which are crimes
by the same recidivist with a different face
who’s risen from the dead to prove
that Hell exists on Earth
and nowhere else
as an atrocity like this that survivors witness
then suffer for loving their beloveds so much
and being so good.
Copyright 2022 Chard deNiord
Chard deNiord’s many books include In My Unknowing (Pitt, 2020). He is the former Poet Laureate of Vermont.