Calling Home

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Kim Robert Stafford is a former Oregon Poet Laureate. Amidst the terrors of the current war in Ukraine, Kim heard about a Russian soldier on the battlefield calling his mother back home in Russia. This struck Kim to his heart. What would the soldier say to his mother? What would he ask of her?…..

CALLING HOME

How can we kill them—they look like us.
—soldier in Ukraine

An old man, who limped like uncle Alexi, stumbled, 

and we shot him. He had a gun, yes, but he wore a cap

like the one you knit for me. One wore a coat like father’s, 

he tumbled off a bridge into the river. When I shot one running 

into the forest, his hands flew up like brother Oleg, twitching. 

I remember grandfather Sasha shouting when he was disturbed 

too early, before his tea. Here a greybeard shouted as we passed, 

and my commander shot him on his doorstep. One my age, when 

he was hit, cried out “Arina!” Who will have to tell her? If I die, 

who will tell you? I can’t sleep. I see these faces everywhere. 

When my gun is cold, I am afraid. When it is hot, I am ashamed. 

What will happen to children here, like our Slava, Vasyl, Ksenia?

And if I live, after I have a hero’s welcome, tell me, mother,

after you hold me in your arms, what will happen to me?

If YOU were on the battlefield in this war in Ukraine, what would YOU say to YOUR loved one?

IN OUR WORLD TODAY, IT IS DIFFICULT TO FIND MANY ANGELS FLAPPING THEIR WINGS AND MANY SAINTS SINGING HALLELUJAH!

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