Kim Malinowski

Birthday on February 26


I do not want to write about war.

When the dead piled up in our ice rinks,

we averted our eyes.

Some crossed themselves.

I knew small acts would save us.

I wrote to the grieving.


I do not want to write about war again

and how militias marched into the Capitol

only a few dozen miles away.

My father watched chaos,

the fight, the mocking, the death.

I knew liberty stood with small acts

and turned from the TV.

I bought groceries for the shut-ins,

whispered jokes in madness.

If democracy fell, chicken breasts

and potatoes would be our coinage.

I knew that I would have dinner.


I do not want to write about war again, again.

My parents, spectators in opposite rooms,

sound on and off, nonstop coverage.

They watch the tanks, the equipment, the panic.

Fourteen, sixteen-year-olds, handed rifles.

And my parents wait for Kyiv to fall,

and children’s blood to pool in the streets.

In the late hours, I know that small acts matter.

That my rivals, and my betters,

and those better yet to come,

are fleeing, dying, martyred.

Their art, their letters, their stories,

only bleeding ink and dye.


It does not matter if they are Russian.

It does not matter if they are Ukrainian.

Or strangers.

Small acts matter.

I have lit my birthday candle.

I have made my wish.