3/1/22 Workshop – A Poem by Serhiy Zhagan

They buried their son last winter

They buried their son last winter.
Strange weather for winter—rain, thunder.
They buried him quietly—everybody’s busy.
Who did he fight for? I asked. We don’t know, they say.
He fought for someone, they say, but who—who knows?
Will it change anything, they say, what’s the point now?

I would have asked him myself, but now—there’s no need.
And he wouldn’t reply—he was buried without his head.

It’s the third year of war; they’re repairing the bridges.
I know so many things about you, but who’d listen?
I know, for example, the song you used to sing.
I know your sister. I always had a thing for her.
I know what you were afraid of, and why, even.
Who you met that winter, what you told him.
The sky gleams, full of ashes, every night now.
You always played for a neighboring school.
But who did you fight for?

To come here every year, to weed dry grass.
To dig the earth every year—heavy, lifeless.
To see the calm after tragedy every year.
To insist you didn’t shoot at us, at your people.
The birds disappear behind waves of rain.
To ask forgiveness for your sins.
But what do I know about your sins?
To beg the rain to finally stop.
It’s easier for birds, who know nothing of salvation, the soul.

Free writing prompt:
Write about not being sure of another

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