Tenderness by Yuliya Musakovska


The sun kisses my face. I want so much to save
at least a sip of this height, so blue, for later.
The animal song of reddened leaves,
a swirl of wild grapevines, exploding from roofs.
We seem unperishable as if no one after us
will divide a yellow pear in half as in communion,
will forgive one another while hugging the whole world,
not allowing petals to fall from numb blossoms.
A movement of a green dragonfly’s wings,
a tremble of eyelashes,
a children’s toy, abandoned in the grass,
a flock of honey mushrooms that hatched around stumps.
This emergence is witness to a new day coming.
How long should we pull before realizing—the cord is strong?
Tenderness, a rope that keeps us from falling out of the boat.
You hold so many treasures in your hands, my love.
We have no time for disbelief, and no right to it.

Translated from Ukrainian by Olena Jennings and the author

Yuliya Musakovska is the award-winning author of five poetry collections in Ukrainian, The God of Freedom (2021), Men, Women and Children (2015), Hunting the Silence (2014), Masks (2011), and Exhaling, Inhaling (2010). Her poems have been translated into over twenty languages. Recent works appeared in AGNI, The Apofenie Magazine, Life and Legends, The Springhouse Journal, and Red Letters. She lives in Lviv, Ukraine.

Olena Jennings is the author of the poetry collection Songs from an Apartment (2017) and the chapbook Memory Project (2018.) Her novel Temporary Shelter was released in 2021 from Cervena Barva Press. Her translation from Ukrainian of Vasyl Makhno’s collection Paper Bridge is forthcoming from Plamen Press. She is the founder and curator of the Poets of Queens reading series.

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