When the Parties Stop


I remember the first time I was stung 
by a bee. I was six. It was my Russian 
cousin Olga’s birthday party. Suspended

in the airless dark we waited for her to blow 
the candles out. Smoothing the itchy collar
of my summer dress I felt a stab of pain.

I remember an innocent walk in the black 
rain of Chernobyl to the fun fair in town.
We joked about wet clothes, scoffed candy

and Coke, ignored the creaks and groans
of old machines. We clung white-faced
to the safety rail as we spun on the waltzer. 

Today I stare at the daffodils on my table. 
They clamour from their vase, gaudy petticoats 
flapping a can-can at a funeral. In Kyiv 

sandbags not flowers line the streets. A blast 
of golden cluster bombs, pools of pus and piss 
in field hospitals, yellow wheat fields smoulder 

a band of war on the sky blue flags of home. 
In the deserts of Mariupol, walls claw at the sky
and bones burn pale as newborns.

Servants of time, my  daffodils will shrivel, 
lose lustre like the crepe skin of an ageing chorus 
girl. The badlands will birth new blooms.  

Image by the author

2 thoughts on “When the Parties Stop

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