One night, a humanitarian convoy arrived in her dream.
Legs drawn to her chest, head under the sheet,
she sleeps on her right side, back braced by the wall,
the way people sleep during humanitarian wars.
The same exact way all tribes sleep at all times,
waking only because of silence, that awful silence,
during that silence, don’t open the gates –
behind them, little humanitarians, heads facing the wrong way.
Lyudmyla Khersonska lives in Odessa, Ukraine. She’s the author of two books, Vse svoi, named one of the ten best poetry books of 2011, and Tyl’naia-litsevaia (2015). She has won the Voloshin competition, among other awards. Evenings devoted to her poetry have been held in Moscow, Kiev, Lviv, Munich, and New York; her work has also been translated into Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and German. In English, her poems appear in Adirondack Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and Words Without Borders, where she was recently recognized as one of “33 International Women Writers Who Are Bold for Change.” The poems presented here will appear in the three-volume anthology Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine, selected and edited by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky, forthcoming from Academic Studies Press (Brighton, MA).
Katherine E. Young is the author of Day of the Border Guards, 2014 Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize finalist. Young is also the translator of Two Poems by Inna Kabysh (2014); her translations of Russian and Russophone authors have won prizes in international competitions and been published widely internationally, including in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The White Review, Words without Borders, and The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry. Several translations have been made into short films. Young is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts translation fellow and currently serves as the inaugural poet laureate for Arlington, Virginia.