The border is never real. Imagined, invented, imposed,
hardening space at the current confluence of cultures,
away from the poles and centers, hinterlands holding
their own, identities carved out of contrast, distinct
from the distant metropoles of power where fears rule.
Bearing devastations, history’s tensions at play
in pogroms and Holodomor, in massacres at Mykolaiv
and Babyn Yar and Odessa, in clashes and capitulations.
In borderlands some abide the strains and pulls,
the soil itself holds the blood of loyalty and kin,
births grains and grasses, songbirds and children,
while for others the earth is only fit for planting flags
to flutter in the wind, demarcating lines of suffering.
for Peter Ostroushko (1953-2021)