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.