The curfew ends at 6 a.m. – no entry before that, you can only exit.
Any weapons? Put your car glass down, your hands up.
And then you’re suddenly silent – there’s a child on the backseat,
sleeping, slobbery, hugging a reddish pup.
“We’re coming back from the border, where we drove our wives and daughters.”
“I’m driving to take my mother away, I teach music in Warsaw.”
“I took my kids to Hungary, people there gave me a box of coffee,
tomorrow I’m going to join the Armed Forces.”
“Sixteen hours driving, my relatives are waiting at the railway station.”
“I’ve spent thirteen hours at the border, they made me wait.”
“I drove my dear ones to the border, no clue what to do next in this situation…”
“I have to prepare a church for four families to stay.”
Did you know you can’t enter the city now for the city’s safety?
Like bread and fish from the biblical parable, the string of cars doesn’t get shorter,
anxiety, distraction, fatigue will feed on them to satiety,
here there are, near the bags of sand, as if checking, – shining with torches.
The morning is growing gray like a nine-storey concrete panel
building, come up to the wall and stand still – this is your final stop.
Sky, oh the early spring sky, what on earth would help you
not to look like a pile of concrete from the building that was bombed?
After six o’clock nothing changes, an hour of duty left – and that’s all.
You come home around eight a.m., when she gets up and reads the heap
of new messages – and you ask her to lie down next to you,
to hold the walls –
to lull you to sleep.
Translated from Ukrainian by Ella Yevtushenko
First published on Chytomo.com
Myroslav Laiuk (b.31.07.1990) is a Ukrainian novelist, poet and screenwriter. He holds a doctorate PhD in philosophy and literature from at National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, where he teaches creative writing. Laiuk has authored three 3 novels and three 3 poetry collections. His works in English were published in New Statesman, Poetry International, Versopolis, Agenda, Los Angeles Review of Books, and LitHub etc.