Monday, March 14, 2022


Yesterday afternoon I had an email conversation with a Ukrainian friend in Kyiv, and last night, unsurprisingly, I had bad dreams. This morning I read that an apartment block in Nataliya's part of Kyiv had been shelled. 

'Are you OK?' I emailed. 

Yes, she is OK, if by OK you mean alive.

How can it be that I am here in this safe and quiet house and she is there in that hell?

Every morning, a woman in Lviv called Antipina Yaroslava greets her thousands of followers on Twitter, saying she is drinking her war coffee, 

and people all over the world respond with photos of where they are and what they are drinking - coffee, tea - sending her good wishes, love, hope, courage, prayers. She likes the connection. It's a form of solidarity. So far this morning 339 people have sent her messages. 

My Californian aging hippie friend and I had a Facetime chat the other day, and I asked her if she had seen the moving footage of German people at the Berlin railway station, greeting Ukrainian refugees with offers of accommodation. No, she hadn't, but she had seen a line of empty baby buggies left on a platform so mothers with babies could step off the train and use them straight away. Who thought of that? How kind, how empathetic.

I was upset and disturbed when I set off for my morning ride on the Trail. Now I feel better. I'm so fortunate to live here in this safe and quiet place, with daffodils about to come out in the garden, and cows in the field along the lane.

This morning on the Trail

This is the poem I read after the news and before I got out of bed this morning:


Just when it has seemed I couldn’t bear   
   one more friend   
waking with a tumor, one more maniac   

with a perfect reason, often a sweetness   
   has come   
and changed nothing in the world   

except the way I stumbled through it,   
   for a while lost   
in the ignorance of loving   

someone or something, the world shrunk   
   to mouth-size,   
hand-size, and never seeming small.   

I acknowledge there is no sweetness   
   that doesn’t leave a stain,   
no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet ....   

Tonight a friend called to say his lover   
   was killed in a car   
he was driving. His voice was low   

and guttural, he repeated what he needed   
   to repeat, and I repeated   
the one or two words we have for such grief   

until we were speaking only in tones.   
   Often a sweetness comes   
as if on loan, stays just long enough   

to make sense of what it means to be alive,   
   then returns to its dark   
source. As for me, I don’t care   

where it’s been, or what bitter road   
   it’s traveled   
to come so far, to taste so good.
Stephen Dunn, “Sweetness” from New and Selected Poems 1974-1994. Copyright © 1989 by Stephen Dunn. 


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