I have been 2x vaccinated against the shingles—
an affliction commercials show
as lava crackling on top of skin.
Nerve endings go haywire.
I feel safer now as I go
room to room at the hospital
where rashes and lesions
appear on the papery skin
of our elderly routinely.
Of course, my safety does nothing
for anyone bunkering
in the subways of Kiev
as Russia gives it another
deep dive into history and a lesson
on the marvels of modern war-craft
so Putin can have his fill
of limbs ripped from bodies.
Brick and mortar cough as they rise
and tumble, topsy-turvy, orchestrated
by what music of decimation
is created at the tip of a missile.
There now is the little girl
in her inadequate sweater
who wanders out of rubble.
She will need a new mother.
Instead she finds a dusty kitten.
Over and over, in passionate whispers,
the girl promises to be the kitten’s protector.
I am safe and I am trying to stay safe.
In the worst of times eyes turn to stone
and February is never kind.
by Ed Ruzicka
Editor’s Note: War feels interminable no matter the season, but winter is never kind.
Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim