prayer / Lyuba Yakimchuk

Our Father, who art in heaven
of the full moon
and the hollow sun

shield from death my parents
whose house stands in the line of fire 
and who won’t abandon it
like a tomb

shield my husband
on the other side of the war 
as if on the other side of a river
pointing his gun at a breast
he used to kiss

I carry on me this bulletproof vest
and cannot take it off
it clings to me like a skin

I carry inside me his child
and cannot force it out
for he owns my body through it

I carry within me a Motherland
and cannot puke it out
for it circulates like blood 
through my heart 

our daily bread give to the hungry
and let them stop devouring one another

our light give to the deceived
and let them gain clarity 

and forgive us our destroyed cities 
even though we do not forgive for them our enemies

and lead us not into temptation
to go down with this rotting world 
but deliver us from evil 
to get rid of the burden of a Motherland – 
heavy and hardly useful

shield from me 
my husband, my parents
my child and my Motherland

Translated by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky

Lyuba Yakimchuk is a poet, playwright, and screenwriter. Her most recent poetry collection is called Apricots of Donbas. Her poetry has won prestigious awards, including the International Slavic Poetic Award (Ukraine) and the International Poetic Award of the Kovalev Foundation (USA). Born and raised in a small town near Luhansk, Yakimchuk now lives in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky are award-winning literary translators, poets, and scholars. In 2017, they co-edited an anthology of Ukrainian poetry titled Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine. In addition to co-translating Lyuba Yakimchuk’s Apricots of Donbas, they also recently came out with a translation of The Voices of Babyn Yar, a book of poems by Marianna Kiyanovska about the mass killing of the Jewish population of Kyiv uder the Nazi occupation in 1941. Until a few days ago, they lived in Lviv, Ukraine. 

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