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Karen Kilcup

Equinox in Ukraine

March 2022

Spring’s coming—so the calendar says.

Fallow ground should be plowed,

new seeds bought, saved seeds planted.

Their fields supply our need for sunflower oil,

wheat for animal feed, sugar beets for sweetness.

The World Data Center for Geoinformatics

and Sustainable Development compares the climate

“to that of Kansas, slightly drier and cooler

during the summer and colder and wetter

during the winter.” Barley is the usual spring crop.

The source says nothing about unusual years.

Every day jubilant farmers haul Russian tanks

from their fields. One has planted himself

inside the hole on top. He waves a blue and yellow flag

as his neighbor in the green and yellow John Deere

tows the hulk away. He hollers gleefully (we can tell

his mood, even though we don’t know his language)

about the scrap metal payday that’s coming, soon.

In the north, Chernobyl’s sarcophagus gleams.

North of the border, caches of nerve gas mature.

The sun’s getting higher, the ground’s heating up

everywhere. This year’s crop will be sown between

bombs. Hasting hands cast seeds in soil strewn

with steel, watered with blood. Deadly serious,

a comedian has become president of the world.

Unsheltered A folded four-year-old might hide between the desk’s iron legs, but duck-and-cover’s not enough— never was, we’ve learned— glimpsing splintered maple slabs on steel frames, their storage cubbies only big enough for a newborn pup and his half-pint water dish, or an outdated history book. Before the bombs, a student might have found a carved heart punctured by an arrow, feathers bristling, initials above and beneath. Someone has filled the heart’s groove with a teacher’s red magic marker. The lower initials aren’t quite finished. Does the engraving signal truth, or hope? Still, the heart asks, what can we love?


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