Translated by Ali Kinsella
the old lady on the street offered my children some candies:
are they yours? how darling.
why only two? have some more.
just two or three more. and make ‘em just as cute.
why are you laughing? I’m serious.
you’re still young, don’t get it.
look, take a look.
what’s at my back?
what’s at your back?
around the corner to the right—war.
to the left—war.
under our feet—bones.
the sky is silent,
what it’s thinking about.
I say this from the bottom of my heart.
and don’t say,
don’t say later,
that you didn’t hear
that you thought but didn’t know,
how to live in all this, how to be.
what good little rascals…
rain does not bring relief
rain makes it stuffy
birds converse in it
and the cypress on Elnekave Street
smells like something that never was
my god, what’s behind the cypress, rings in my head
my god, what’s behind the cypress, I think
but behind the cypress is a school
a blacktopped yard
and a tattoo-face grandma squeezed in white
is leading her grandson toward me
along Elnekave Street
Today is Saturday
It happens seldom, but still
I wanted genuine sincerity once and for all
and you, head in hands, said:
“We want to live
live here in peace
they gnash and climb their mountain.”
You said: “Woman, listen, you’re capable.
We have to raise children
it’s a coming back together.
In this garden. Woman! Listen!”
And then averted your eyes, now full of tears
and to your great-
grandfathers and wife
spoke and spoke
and cried, for perhaps the first time since you became a man,
“Grandpa Moses, Grandpa David, my wife doesn’t understand me. How can I live?
Grandpa Moses, Grandpa David, how can I live, my wife doesn’t understand me.”
Ania Chromova was born and raised in Kyiv. She emigrated to Israel in 2008. She belongs to no literary groups, but her works have been included in various Ukrainian anthologies and she is the co-editor of the online literary arts magazine, Zahid-Shid.Net. Khromova translates poetry from Hebrew, English, and Spanish into Ukrainian. In addition to poetry, she also writes children’s books.
Ali Kinsella has been translating from Ukrainian for nine years. Her published works include essays, poetry, monographs, subtitles to various films. With Dzvinia Orlowsky she translated a collection of poetry by Natalka Bilotserkivets: Eccentric Days of Hope and Sorrow (Lost Horse Press, 2021). She won the 2019 Kovaliv Fund Prize for her translation of Taras Prokhasko’s Anna’s Other Days. A former Peace Corps volunteer, Ali lived in both Western and Central Ukraine for nearly five years. She now lives in Chicago, where she also sometimes works as a baker.