When I looked up in the Gopachok restaurant in Chernivtsi, there were birds hanging in space. Little plates on the walls. Flowers. Someone was playing a violin and a few people were dancing on a tiny space near the bathrooms. I was in Ukraine, I was a woman who had just been to her grandfather’s village, had just walked through soft grass to the church where he would have been christened in summer, 1879, and I was drinking moonshine made with orange peel. Plates of varenyky covered the table. When I looked up, I was floating with the birds, out of myself, wondering how the story would end.
My son sewed flags and his wife and sons made signs. They went off to a rally in downtown Ottawa to show support for Ukrainians under fire. “E. was a bit confused about the proceedings,” my son reported. “He thought we were going to the war itself to protest.” In the subways of Kyiv, children are drawing tanks with crayons. They hear the sirens, the sound of bombs. They are making molotov cocktails by the hundreds. In my house on the edge of the Pacific, I can hear only silence.
In my kitchen, two strings of birds hang from ceiling. It is so quiet I can hear myself think. When I look up, I am floating with the birds, out of myself, wondering how this story will end.