A poem by Lesyk Panasiuk: “In the sickrooms of my country”

Letters of the alphabet go to war
cling to each other, stand up, form words that no one wants to shout,
Sentences blown from the mines into the avenues, stories
fired upon by several rocket launches.

A Ukrainian word
is ambushed: Through the broken window of
the letter д other countries observe how the letter it
loses its head like the roof of the letter m

The language in wartime
cannot be understood. Inside this sentence
is a hole – nobody wants to die – nobody
speaks. By the letter й hospital bed
lies a prosthesis too shy to use.
You can see the light through the awkwardly sewn up holes
the letter ф – the soft sign tore out the tongue
because of disagreements about
the etymology of torture. There is too much alphabet
too much in the sickrooms of my country too
lots of alphabet, no room for an apostrophe; color falls off
the walls and shower us with incomprehensible words
like men who refuse to speak in war. A poem by Lesyk Panasiuk: “In the sickrooms of my country”

Jessica MacLeish

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