“The Ukrainian Flag Stares through the Balsam Fir from Larry’s Trees” by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach


just take it he said & I doubted
generosity are you sure? still $30 short
I’ve learned nothing is free
in this country his
white mustache curled
to a smile I’m Larry & this
is the south & these are my trees
how easy to claim what soil gives
to own trees & bodies
to give them away to strangers
so my children can hang
the shatterproof ornaments & ask for more
light while in Ukraine
the bulbs won’t spark the heat
won’t radiate the soil will stay
snow-covered & theirs &
in my house strings & strings
of electric rainbow dazzle
trail the evergreen & walls & wind
my children’s small limbs
here in Arkansas it’s barely cold
enough to light a fire
but we can & do with oak
& crabapple we home
its added glow so everything
smells of invited smoke & pine
not invaded smoking sky where
the windows flicker with candlelight
& shellings & tomorrow
I will bake gingerbread & fry
latkes & light the candles
forbidden in my Soviet childhood
tomorrow I will pray
to a god I don’t believe in
for more miracle tomorrow
I will still have been born
from darkness & wick & tonight
when I lift my daughter
to place the silver star on the highest branch
& my American mother-
in-law takes a photo
the only light will be the yellow-
blue horizon of the flag
frozen in the window behind us

from Poets Respond
December 25, 2022


Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach: “The missiles continue to fall on Ukraine. Millions lose power and heat and even water. It is well below freezing all across the country. On Christmas Eve, when many families in the US and around the world gather around a tree decorated by hundreds of lights, in my birthplace, Ukraine, this day will mark ten months of brutal, full-scale war. It is too easy to grow used to the barrage of terrible news, too easy to forget that during this time of celebration, suffering continues. If you are able, consider contributing to an aid organization that helps those who are in Ukraine and refugees trying to flee. I recommend Ukraine TrustChain, an all volunteer-run nonprofit started by Ukrainian immigrants in the US, they work with local volunteers on the ground, going directly into areas hard to reach by larger international organizations. TrustChain provides urgent food, medical supplies, and transportation to safer regions.” (web)

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