Take heart

Ukraine! Your flag of cerulean blue
and sun-gold says sky’s the place
where the improbable reigns: clouds
and things with wings. Who’d have
imagined such a fertile
thirst as sky?

But sky’s also where colder hells
than hell can fall from gigantic metal birds,
heckling you through your sky-patch
over patchworks of gold fields, raining
the unspeakable, that make human grains
flag and fall into earth’s bleak bed
and thwart death,

become wheat, then bread. So take heart:
your grief’s a fertile thirst, too: it reigns, rides
right up to the thirsting sky’s fresh-rising sun—
the improbable gold of grief, seething, teaming,
yes, it has to be said: the gold’s
fertile grief.

About the Poem

The colors of the Ukrainian flag, to my mind, speak to the paradoxical mix of grief and glory, death and immortality that Ukraine is living through now. Grief, at present, gets the last word, as in this poem, but I believe that even grief is dynamic and living. New life comes of it, as I have tried to express in this poem. I think that what Ukraine is enduring with courage now will be remembered with the deepest amazement, and her experience will leave a mark on history that cannot be construed in any terms except those of the most profound heroism.

About the Author

Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun of Minster Abbey, in Kent, England.

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