She longs for the refuge of dark interiors. The Tiffany lamps and plush burgundy of city bars, torn between Aqua Velva and a Dirty Martini. In the gloom, eyes gleam and lies bloom unseen on dry lips. Dimly lit, anyone will be someone.
She dreams of peering through the gap in the chintz curtains as his family coils, roils in the blue flicker of a widescreen. He sips tea from a cracked mug, The Best Dad in the World embossed in faded gold. Dimly lit, anyone will be someone.
She imagines the marine glow of their bed -room, matching furniture and fluffy robes. The green drapes smother the rumble of traffic on Harbour Road. Newborn light pales his face when he smiles. Dimly lit, anyone will be someone.
She craves the murk of musty hotel rooms. A silk scarf cast over a single lamp, sheets and limbs tangled, the acrid taste of him on her lips. His sleeping foot dangles, sock still on and she sees a hole in the sole. Dimly lit, anyone will be someone.
She recalls the tobacco heat of his BMW, leather beneath her thighs. The dashboard flickers like broken glass. Fireflies swirl in the beam of headlights. Morse code. His face turns away when he speaks. Dimly lit, anyone will be someone.
She longs for dark interiors, not this naked white room. Fluorescent light beats down and she shrivels under their weight like a moth who finally made it to the moon. She’s waiting. She’s been here so long, she forgets why. Brightly lit, someone will become no one.
For the last few nights I have jolted awake every hour or so in panic and anxiety about the situation in Ukraine. My parents were Ukrainian refugees during the second World War and I grew up in England. Throughout my childhood I heard horror stories from my family about what they endured when they fled their home at short notice during the Nazi invasion not knowing where they would end up and carrying only the few belongings they could gather. Today I wept upon seeing footage of Ukrainian families having to run for their lives just like my own family did seventy years ago. I still have cousins living in Ukraine and God knows what is happening to them. I feel powerless to help. My mother’s home city of Dnipro was bombed today by Russia. I am glad she is no longer with us and spared the knowledge of this atrocity. She died three years ago. As a gesture of support and solidarity for the Ukrainians who are now homeless and terrified I am posting my poem ‘Heartland’. It is based on my mother’s story and is one of the poems in my recent book, The Rush of Lava Flowers available on Amazon.
The train is leaving but I am here in a yellow room with curtains of sky. The door is chained from the inside, the lock and the mirror are broken.
The train is leaving and you’re not here. The prints of army boots have scarred the wood I once polished on my hands and knees with melting candle wax.
The train is leaving, I can hear it’s wail. On the sunlit balcony above treetops where the birds have fallen silent, a young boy hangs from a rope.
The train is leaving to I know not where but my cat is hungry, my roses wilt, poor Mishka waits on the window sill and they will not fit in my suitcase.
Will I find you arched across wild waters? Will I see you in the sparks of burning pines? Will you shimmer like an island in an ocean of wheat? Will I smell you in the northerly like the promise of snow or grass that is limpid green? Will I meet you in the white lines in the middle of the road? Will I catch you like a ghost in a speaking mirror? Will I taste you in buttermilk pancakes or tea sweetened with cherry jam? Will I feel you in the blue fur of a cat? Will I discover you folded inside yourself like a secret at the back of my wardrobe? Will I fear you in my dreams of showers without water or scroll you on my screen as a drone follows the River Dnieper Mama once swam? Will I hear you in the trains as they scream through the night?