By Yevhenia Moskvina (Ukraine)
Translation from Ukrainian by Julia Murashova
Imagine that you wake up someday to the happiest morning of your life. I know that you’re hesitant to trust another morning now. Will it ever come? The only thing holding you together is the hope that it would.
Someday you’ll breathe a sigh of relief.
You’re probably already used to standing at the edge of the abyss and staring into it. You hear voices crawling into your ears like spiders, weaving their webs inside. And your head gets so empty, not a single word left, and your soul gets so desolate, not a feeling to be felt.
There, on the other side of the abyss, the trees are dry and bare, littered with crows. The horizon is smoking, bursts of gunfire ring out, the aviation hums. You step forward again, ever so closer. Don’t look there, take a step back from the edge of hope.
Just imagine waking up, but not from an explosion.
One morning, you will be woken up.
“The war is over.”
“What?” you’ll rub your eyes and pinch yourself.
“The war is over!” a happy voice will echo from wall to wall, in alleys and walkways, on metro stations and train stations.
“Victory!”, the ceramic rooster will scream from atop the kitchen cabinet, looking at the neighborhood previously obscured by a wall.
There, outside, the children are playing in a crater left by an explosion, no longer interested in the playground – they’d grown out of it.
All of them grew up, too fast and too early.
The nightingale will flap its wings and take off from the opposite nine story building. You would follow its easy flight across the sky. And whatever sky it would be, gray or blue, it would always be clear for you.
“The war is over!” you scream at the sky to those no longer walking the earth.
You spin around, head held high, observing the sky. The trees around sway in the wind. You listen closely, and the only thing you hear… is serenity. An unheard type of calmness. You hear the laughter of a child — a child whose father came back. You see how tightly the wife hugs her husband after a long time apart.
Trains from Poland come to the stations. There are long lines on the border. People are hugging everywhere. Friends are exchanging stories on benches in parks.
“I’ve never had ice cream in Poland”, a nervous laughter from one bench.
“Ha! Why?” a surprised voice.
“What can I say,” — drifts over from another bench. “Well, bonjour, je m'appelle Anastasiya.”
“Ach so! Ja!”, someone behind your back says out of habit.
You get lost in the diversity of languages you could only hear in class in the past. And now so many Ukrainians speak three languages at least.
Stepping into the nearest store you see long lines. People who have had sweets you’ve never even seen before while they were abroad are genuinely happy buying Mivina and Morshynska as if they were a ring with a 10-karat diamond or a Rolex. And it doesn’t matter that some of them have AirPods Pro in or the latest iPhone peeking out of their back pockets. They are enjoying the cheap glazed curds with cherry filling all the same, remembering delights of the past.
The sun is setting over the horizon, but you continue to walk through the calm city, happy like a child. You laugh because you don’t hear sirens anymore, because there’s no curfew. You feel endless happiness.
At night, sitting in the kitchen, you hear a doorbell ring. This is your old acquaintance, the one you haven’t heard from for ages. You open the door, and he steps in without a word, sets a bottle of sparkling wine down and hugs you. You stand like that in total silence, there is no need for words. You go in the kitchen, sit down and quietly drink. You look at his face, changed, with wrinkles on the forehead, between his eyebrows, in the corners of his eyes. He has a lot of gray hair. He keeps silent. He’s changed so much… And you hold his hand and think of endless waiting. But now he is here, dearest Mr. Calm.
You had to grow up, but you still are able to dream. You have your inner child. Can you imagine this joy? As if you have a new birthday.
Your eyes have seen death, they know what it is. But ahead of you is a new life in your cozy land.
That happiest morning will come. And let it be so every subsequent one is the most-est.
I was born in 2005 in Donetsk, from where my parents took me to Kyiv shortly before the war. Kyiv teachers gave me a love for the Ukrainian language and culture, and at the end of 2021 I suddenly decided to switch to Ukrainian completely, not even realizing the scale of the whole problem, that is, the effect of Soviet propaganda on me. Since 2016, I have been traveling to the occupied territories, through Mariupol, which was the only connection between my family and Mariupol became like home. Back then, under occupation, I did not yet understand, in a childish and naive way, why there was such tension and decline everywhere and why I was threatened by children from the yard for saying "Glory to Ukraine." In March 2022, my mother and I fled the war to Germany, where we are today. The whole family, except for my father, remains where they were born and is probably preparing to die there. It is about the Donetsk region, from a child's point of view, that I send some of my poetry.
Reflect Empathy has created an anthology of original student poems, prose, and artwork from the United States and Ukraine, to juxtapose the perception and actual experiences of the Ukraine War. We hope this will create an avenue for empathy in the reader. We will not just remember the number of lives lost, but also the lives themselves.
The project is a year-long global case study leveraging art and literature which have the unique ability to evoke emotions, stimulate discussions, and provide diverse perspectives.
The anthology is available for sale on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Reflect-Empathy-Ukraine-Anthology/dp/B0CLL38HZV. All proceeds from the sales will be used to fund scholarships for Ukrainian students. The Ukrainian Human Price, is the blog series, featuring submissions from the Anthology. Donate below: