the Ache

the ache is like a tear
a rip rent in the heart—
like the tears shed by wives, 
mothers, sisters, and daughters 
leaving husbands, fathers, sons,
and brothers behind at borders 
and airports today. 

the ache is like the cramp
in the wrist of the nurse
squeezing oxygen and life 
into the tiny body of a baby
in the bomb shelter basement 
of a hospital in Dnipro today.

it’s in the handcuffed wrists
of the protestors in Moscow
arrested by the thousands
for their constant chant
“No to War”— 
wondering if they will be heard
before it’s much too late. 

it’s in the cracks of the voices
of the Russian mothers on the phone
pleading with their sons not to go there—
“Not to Ukraine! No!
Don’t go there, please—
just get on a plane and come home.“

it’s Ash Wednesday, and the ache is everywhere. 
even in the ashes in the atmosphere—
in the streets above the shelled schools
and the residential buildings 
that are being blown to bits 
with a doubled-down desperation 
of an addict looking for his fix. 

an ache filled by love 
is an ache that can heal—
but you fill your ache with lust
for power and don’t you know
it will never be enough? 
You shall go hungry—
hungrier even than the little boy
hiding with his mother in the basement
in a small town outside Kyiv
only stale air and air raid blasts to eat.

and weren’t you a little boy once?
sitting on his mother’s knee
asking for simple things like sugar
in your tea and receiving it
sitting satisfied?

now a whole country cannot quiet 
the snarling of your soul
and all I can think as I rock
my own infant son to sleep
is how your mother’s heart would ache
if she could see you now. 

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