The schoolyard leads to a riverbank.
A priest is fighting with the workers
who repair the road.
The blooming of irises,
a high sky over the riverbed.
The children look at illustrations.
The school textbooks
note what’s most important:
the dead leave their coffins
like it’s the subway’s last stop.
Jesus is on the cross
like a traffic cop at an intersection –
no one gets
what he really wants.
A New Orthography, a collection of poems by Serhiy Zhadan and translated from the Ukrainian by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin, is published by Lost Horse Press.
This article appears in the 11 Mar 2020 issue of the New Statesman, How the world is closing down