To Katya, aged seven, in a bomb shelter in Kyiv

To Katya, aged seven, in a bomb shelter in Kyiv. Illustration by Masha Foya, who is based in Kyiv.
To Katya, aged seven, in a bomb shelter in Kyiv. Illustration by Masha Foya, who is based in Kyiv.

In a new poem published in full on The Guardian (illustration by Masha Foya, who is based in Kyiv), the novelist and poet Ben Okri writes about what hope can grow out of the destruction in Ukraine.

Read the full poem on the Guardian website

All around you missiles
Are falling. Churches
You once knew won’t
Be there any more.
The streets you walked
Will be changed by
Blood and shelling
And bombs. It seems
The world’s gone mad.
As the Earth shakes,
Not because of the rage
Of the gods, but that
One man wants to
Win back a lost empire,
You will think that
Your world is being
Shattered for ever. It is.
But out of the destruction,
Out of all this thunder,
Something new will
Come. Whatever happens
Your land will know
The courage of its soul,
Its people; and history
Will be rewritten not
With the force of an autocrat
But by the steadfast hope
And desire to be true
To the beauty of your earth
And all you have
Suffered. Katya in your
Bomb shelter, we’re with you.
We’re there in the shadows
We’re there in the silence
Between the explosions… “

Read the full poem on the Guardian website

Ben Okri

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