When a Missile Finds a Home


Cat in the window 
examines the snowflakes that float— 
marks of art in the winter dark 

It’s a Christmas Eve in my homeland 
the things to come 
waiting to be unwrapped like a gift under the tree 
in a house with a roof 
still intact  

not yet stuffed with snow 
through the openings still posing as 
windows, doors  

I remember the poet who wrote 
of a missile 
entering his home  

For him in Donbas 
all the newness of war is over 
and yet  

Vasya the cat in his lap 
licks his face 
just like it used to  

Mom gets ready for work in the kissel-blue 
glow of dawn while he reads 
verses of Mandelstam 

in a room 
they patched up with 
foam, scotch tape & cardboard  

How he dreamt of becoming the Minister of 
Culture in the new state, orchestrating 
massive screenings of Eisenstein!  

His defenders said: No use for culture now! 
Better take this gun! 
Fatten up the Motherland on some blood! 

It’s all over for him— 
the wait, the uncertainty— 
What will become of me? 

Just the beginning for us


Oksana Maksymchuk is the author of poetry collections Xenia and Lovy in Ukrainian. Her English-language poems have appeared in AGNI, The Irish Times, The Paris Review, The Poetry Review, and many other journals. She co-edited Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine, an award-winning anthology of contemporary Ukrainian writing. 

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When a Missile Finds a Home

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