“[The whole soldier doesn’t suffer]” by Lyudmyla Khersonska

I find it nearly impossible to accomplish anything at the moment without first checking the news to see what’s happening in Ukraine, hoping and praying that the Ukrainians can stay strong and hold off Putin’s forces.

In between news checks, I started looking for some Ukrainian writing, and I came across this poem written by Lyudmyla Khersonska, translated by Katherine E. Young, and published in 2016 by WORDS without BORDERS that I wanted to share.

[The whole soldier doesn’t suffer]

The whole soldier doesn’t suffer—
it’s just the legs, the arms,
just blowing snow,
just meager rain.
The whole soldier shrugs off hurt—
it’s just missile systems “Hail” and “Beech,”
just bullets on the wing,
just happiness ahead.
Just meteorological pogroms,
geo-Herostratos wannabes,
just the girl with the pointer
poking the map in the stomach.
Just thunder, lightning,
just dreadful losses,
just the day with a dented helmet,
just God, who doesn’t protect.

3 thoughts on ““[The whole soldier doesn’t suffer]” by Lyudmyla Khersonska

  1. Denton, thank you for posting this poem. Like you, the war news haunts and unsettles me constantly. I hope that more Ukranian poets’ voices will emerge. I want to know their thoughts, their unique expressions for the combination of enormous loss and deep courage, their hunger for freedom. I want to write about my own reactions to their plight, but I have not done so. What can an elderly woman from Appalachia possibly have to contribute to the conversation that would be even remotely credible?
    Phyllis Price, Blacksburg, VA

    Liked by 1 person

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