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.