Slava Ukraini

Poem by Eshaan Mani

As cities burn and tanks roll,
The young and old of the borderlands
Rise above the fold.

As David confronted Goliath,
So today the small but zealous confront the strong. 
Shunning the warmth of the hearth,
With dignity in their heart,
They walk out into the night,
Clasping their torches,
Lobbing balls of fire 
at screeching monsters of metal.
The young girl from Dnipro
Wearing her father’s fur hat,
Two sizes too large,
Sees her country falling to its knees
While her countrymen stand tall.
Her voice, though soft, holds great power,
It swells to the height of the Carpathians
Her arms spread as broad as the low plains.
As her brothers and sisters,
in shared love for their motherland, 
In hopeful patriotism,
utter a simple cry: 
“Slava Ukraini!”

Her Raggedy Ann doll 
Hair about her face in a frenzied frame
Deep eyes seeing all…
was the last thing her father’s eyes saw.

Through the snowscapes of the Donbas
The fur-clad warriors fight.
Fathers and sons,
Uncles and nephews,
Brothers in arms.

The teen from Lviv,
Five-o-clock shadow slowly growing,
Narrows his eyes as he looks at the horizon. 
The rising sun sets,
On a stricken land
Infected with the sickness 
of egoistic, expansionist violence.
He wonders about Mother and Father
As reports of air raids trickle through his radio.
And when he turns back to fight,
He utters a silent prayer
And then shouts:
“Slava Ukraini!”

The violinist in the bunker,
The soldiers in the tanks,
The mothers throwing Molotovs
Everyone revisits their own story
As their lives flash past their eyes.
Every denouement the same,
Ending in a cry of solidarity, lifting the chains:
“Slava Ukraini!”

Dawn breaks, and the time comes…
When babushka can step out of her corner, 
Placing foot after arthritic foot in front of the other,
Stepping out into the light.
She sees blue and yellow, soaring high.
As tears well up in her eyes,
The trumpeting of the Ukrainian anthem begins. 
Kyiv tastes freedom,
And a beacon of hope is lit for the world. 
Babushka cries,
“Slava Ukrani!” 

Eshaan is a 16-year-old published author and poet with a passion for service, filmmaking, podcasting, and playing the dhol.

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