February 24, 2023
Last year, the day after Putin invaded Ukraine, I wrote the poem, When You Choose War, below. Since that day, according to 1440 Daily Digest, a nonbiased digital news source, “Western intelligence suggests military casualties—those either dead or wounded—are nearing 200,000 for Russia and have reached 100,000 for Ukraine. International groups have confirmed the deaths of more than 8,000 Ukrainian civilians but believe the true toll to be higher.
“Estimates suggest at least 8 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced, while 8 million others have fled the country. Ukraine’s population was above 41 million before the invasion.
“Total Western aid—including military, economic, and humanitarian support—has topped $135B. Of that total, more than $75B has been provided by the US.
“Putin, in recent days, has cast the war in a historical context, referring to countries adjacent to the country as originally Russian land. Analysts have warned Russia is ramping up for a renewed offensive while also questioning its remaining military capacity.”
365 days later, much of Ukraine lies in destruction. Millions—millions—of people have experienced death and/or trauma, all because of the actions and power of one narcissistic egomaniac, Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian people have persevered in unbelievable and inconceivable ways despite the fact that so many of us who long to help do not know how to do so. I believed last year, and continue to believe this year, that the creative arts hold Truth in the midst of non-truth and raise courage and hope in the midst of barrenness and injustice. There is little that tyrants can do to defeat the power and message of art, so for those of us who create, whatever medium we use, we must create.
And so today, one year later, I share again the poem I wrote in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, against Putin, and for all fanatics to hear. Fanatical power is limited and cannot, ever, achieve real victory. May each word offer courage and hope and light and resilience. (This poem was featured on the Facebook page, Poetry for Ukraine, were many more poems and artwork shout out the messages of Truth and Hope: https://www.facebook.com/Heartsblueandyellow.)
Prayers continue for the people of Ukraine and for the grieving Russians, and for those Russians who are imprisoned for speaking Truth. ~ Rosemary
When You Choose War
. . . you cannot stop
the Lenten rose’s pale white blossoms
nor can you command
the pink-tinged buds of tulip trees
to fold inward.
When you choose war, know that
the grass still greens in spring,
the titmouse seeks its “peter-peter,”
the black and white cat curls herself
in the dust-moted spill of sunlight.
When war is your choice, prepare yourself
for deep-souled words that fall from pens
in rivers of black, for multi-colored
hues to unveil themselves like dreams
across acres of blank canvas
for prophetic music to lift and scatter
like so many blackbirds
across a sky so bright you will
shield your eyes.
When you choose war, no matter
your imagined power, you cannot
enshroud the human spirit
you cannot even destroy love
and while you may—indeed—conceive
tears, never can you thwart
from ascending in legions
toward all that is more eternal
© Rosemary McMahan
Photo Credit: Pixabay