Cover Image for A Soldier Is Born

A Soldier Is Born

Yuliya Musakovska, trans. by Olena Jennings
Issue Three

This poetic record of a person’s transformation into a soldier comes from Yulia Musakovska’s collection The God of Freedom (2021). According to the translator Olena Jennings, it contains the idea of ‘poetry transcending the physical’ and exemplifies Musakovska’s unique way of writing about the body.


Bullets of rain hit the roof,
punch me in the gut:
what are you dreaming of,
poet of the warm home front?
The storm is wailing for them,
mourning them,
life went out
as if a feather has drifted away

Fingers break bread,
put an enemy through the wringer
Lying down, he awaits
the coming that will never be

Memorial candles
lined up along the road again
Black ribbons like leeches feed off flags

A rosary of beans picked by grandma,
his father’s warm socks made of scratchy wool
With all of this,
with his body,
he will knead the new clay,
With his mouth,
he will scoop water from a broken boat

Who are you,
the one with a glance
that hurts more than an iron rod,
a newborn
or confined to a uniform
An inconspicuous
metal toy figurine
fell off the table,
pierced a hole in the earth’s crust


[Read in Ukrainian here].


Image: Jason Leung, Toy Soldiers. Unsplash.

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