Darryl Willis’ most recent poem to appear here was Svyatorgorsk 2013 (November 2013).
To Pray With Priests
February 22, 2014
By Darryl Willis
Let everyone know that Ukraine will be shining soon
because she will spread her wings as God desires it.
–Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861)
One could do worse than build a wall
of prayerful protestations to keep
the cosmic seam from tearing apart.
So we pray with priests on frozen ground
islands on a sea of ice
holding back the swelling tides
attempting peace on frozen film.
Some may call it a task for fools:
the Tatars still swept over the steppes
and clothes rolled in blood lie buried deep
in tracks of Teutonic tanks.
Whispered, ghostly prayers ascend:
wisps of breath in frozen air,
insubstantial and unlikely
to repel blunt force hatred
from the hands of the other.
And yet, and yet …
The one who set the world’s design
does not hold it in his hands,
but walks the streets of ice and blood
tears streaming down his face.
He hears and weeps but is not done.
He wills Ukraine to lift her head
and rise from the ash-strewn streets
to spread her winds and take flight
as he ordained she would do.