Saturday, August 8, 2015

Postcard from the edge

Photographer Anastasia Taylor-Lind is doing something that
caught my eye. She has been working in the Ukraine documenting
the conflict there (remember that one). To bring attention to it
she is sending postcards. So I sent her my address and she mailed
this postcard to me. It's pretty ordinary -- a city scene of Donetsk
in the evening. But its note is part of an ongoing sadness connected
to the war.

I was moved by the tension between the image and the information,
though I know very little about the situation in the Ukraine. A bit
of research provided some background for this poem.

In Donetsk, about 100 troops of the self-styled separatist Donetsk People's Republic took an oath of an allegiance, in an apparent sign of defiance to Mr Porosheko's peace plan. In a ceremony on the town's Lenin Square, armed fighters, some wearing face masks, pledged they would "defend the Donetsk People's Republic to the last drop of blood."
Alexei, a miner, said he decided to take up arms last week. "I am 43. I have children. I had a job but I dropped everything to defend the homeland," he said.

For Aleksandr Vyrotsky
            Killed in Uspenka Ukraine 5/16/2014

By Pamela Hart

When your postcard arrived in the mail
the weather here was classic August

90 degrees the cicadas whirring
bales of heat piling on top of each other

like thunder storms as my day accumulated
its usual list – noisy, mundane – Trump is at it again

another car bombing in Kabul while polar
ice melts though it’s snowing in Bozeman

I could go on and on about things
the stories, news, the sunsets

I miss you and wish you were here
not there or wherever you were

when you left emboldened
by face-mask and gun

I still picture the street lamps and spring blossoms
glowing like small beautiful explosions


While the miner quoted in the news report isn't 
Aleksandr Vyrotsky, I wonder about both their stories,
think of their families. The Irish poet Seamus Heaney
argued rightly that a poem never stopped a tank
but I like to think perhaps a poem, like a photograph
or a postcard, can inspire the person