Poets of Ukraine. Marianna Kijanowska. “Verily I say…”

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aurora borealis
Poets of Ukraine. Marianna Kijanowska. "Verily I say..."

                                       for Vladimir Vakulenko

Verily I say it happened

in the sky over Ukraine

the red aurora borealis of war

the bioluminescence of blood

on green grass –

like a crimson haze over the massacre

searing and shimmering

for hundreds of our heavenly ones

who knows how many now

hundreds of our heavenly ones

from the bloody battlefields

from our murdered heavenly cities

from our bombed-out theaters

for women and children and the unborn

the Elysium has opened

all hardships have been left on earth

doubts wounds pain stones from the slings stones from the fires

crosses and tombstones from destroyed cemeteries

bricks from ruins iron from reinforced concrete

at the bottom of the sea at the bottom of rivers and lakes

metal and dead butterflies on roadsides

swallows and other dead things

burned clocks and shot monitors

dollys with bullets in their foreheads

playground cars

soiled furniture, ruins of books

on the ground on the floor salt shingles bricks

shattered asphalt

on the roofs at the bottom of the sea rivers and lakes

porcelain and embroidered rushnyks on roadsides

but this Elysium has opened up

and for all our horses dogs and cats

our faithful friends


who took stab wounds, gunshot wounds, chopped wounds

for their homeland and their people’s loved ones

animals were holy innocents

sacredly devoted to their nearest and dearest

in the cozy temples of apartments and homes

virtuous and light-hearted, almost prophets

they gave their lives for love and in love

they have left for their masters

a pure and bright memory, for none of them was a burden

in the measure of fondness and other merits.

Verily I say in the skies above Ukraine

an Elysium has opened up

and has revealed itself everywhere in the world.

red aurora borealis

like the apple of the eye

like the Eye

the lens of Elysium

has shown

to our hundreds of celestials–

who knows how many there are now

our hundreds of celestials

from our bloody battlefields

from our murdered heavenly cities

from our bombed-out theaters

and the women and the children and the unborn –

mothers of their murderers

fathers of their murderers

their murderers’ children

and the unborn

the children of their murderers

the sisters and brothers of their executioners

all over the world.

but especially in Russia

and also

the lens of Elysium

has shown

to all our horses dogs and cats

to our loyal friends

the beloved pets

of our beloveds

mothers of their masters’ murderers

fathers of mtheir masters’ murderers

the children of the masters’ murderers

the sisters and brothers of their masters’ executioners

all over the world.

but especially in Russia

Verily I say, the great wind of the sun has blown

and has torn away the great veil

and now it is revealed

the day will come

and the blood-hot iron of the Elysium will rise up

and the blood-hot iron will stir in our battlefields

and the blood hot iron will sigh in the wounds of the dead and in the wounds of our ruins

and a hundred million Russian mines will wail somewhere in our gardens, in our playgrounds, in our forests

in the meadows between the meadows

and will rise into the boundless abyss of the sky

for verily I say

the bioluminescence of blood

has its price

its truth

its infinite memory.

for Elysium has a special power

the power of love

and the power of vengeance

Verily, verily I say

the day will come

and a hundred million Russian mines will fall

hot as blood

on the heads of our murderers

in russia


About the Author:

Marianna Kijanowska
Lviv, Ukraine

Marianna Kijanowska (1973) is a Ukrainian poetess, writer, translator and literary researcher. She is a member of the Ukrainian PEN Center. She is the author of 16 books of poetry, including “Babi Yar. Voices” (2017), “Lightning Meets Water and Wind” (2023), and a book of short prose. Participant in the World Congress of Translators of Polish Literature (2009, 2013, 2017), she was awarded the Honorary Title of Merit for Services to Polish Culture (Zasłużony dla kultury polskiej, 2013). Laureate of the National Shevchenko Prize of Ukraine (2020) as well as of the Zbigniew Herbert International Prize (2022), European Poet of Freedom International Prize (2022), the Sholem Aleichem Prize, etc.

About the Translator:

Nina Kossman
New York, USA

Nina Kossman’s nine books include three books of poems, two books of short stories, an anthology she edited for Oxford University Press, , two books of translations of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poetry and a novel. Her work has been translated from English into French, Spanish, Greek, Japanese, Hebrew, Persian, Chinese, Russian, Italian, Danish, and Dutch. Her Russian work was published in Russian periodicals in and outside of Russia. She is a recipient of an NEA fellowship, UNESCO/PEN Short Story award, grants from the Onassis Foundation, the Foundation for Hellenic Culture, etc. Her website is https://ninakossman.com/.

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