Connection Comes in Crisis
by Yuliya Shteynberg
Connection comes in crisis
Entranced, I watch the explosions on TV
Streets I saw many years ago
Countless times in my first few years; once in my college years
Dead silent and ghost-like
While babies cry underneath them
Held by their fearful mothers
In an air-raid shelter, basement, metro station
Take your pick.
So many ways for humanity to disappear.
I lived around here, I was told
Too small to remember a thing
Impossible to think I will remember anything like this
Feeling no connection to this place till now,
With my Westernized life and organic food
Wish I had then because now—I’m glued to the screens
I feel connected to these people, their stories, their lives falling apart
I guess connection comes in crisis.
No longer am I a “Russian Jew from Ukraine”
(That never quite rolled off the tongue anyway)
I am a Ukrainian [Jew].
Simple, sweet, in solidarity.
I speak Russian, not Ukrainian
Does that make me a traitor?
The intertwined histories of these cultures excuses me, I hope.
My American friend from Ukraine wants to learn Ukrainian
I’d rather assassinate the aggressor.
My old friend moved from Donetsk to Crimea
He tells me “Russia must force peace with a special military operation.”
What do your friends think, he asks.
I am left speechless.
I am disturbed to understand the language spoken by both sides.
It somehow illogically implicates me in the conflict.
I used to feel confused by my compilation of identities
Russian-speaking Jewish ethnicity Ukrainian USSR-born American/immigrant
Now it’s crystal clear. (It has to be.)
I stand with Ukraine.
Слава Украине! (Glory to Ukraine. A Ukrainian national salute.)
And as the brave protestors chant fiercely in my mother tongue,
Нет Войне! (No to War!)
good stuff IMO.