Warblers at war

This poem is dedicated to Euroasian leaf warblers commonly found in Ukraine and Russia.

The Great Steppe stretches wide in her sleep.

Spreading their wings

Warblers are reading to war.

Until now, most ordinary birds,

they were called into action.

Beating hearts in ruffled feathers

from Quaker grey to military green

they no longer hide amongst the leaves.

Under the heavy steel of gathering clouds

they want to fly as high as eagles

without a stop or hesitation.

The Great Steppe stretches wide in her sleep,

counting the grains of dust it had shifted for centuries

and all the warblers – wood, dusky, willow and common chiffchaffs.

The Great Steppe dreams deep in her sleep,

from left to right on the map that someone reads from the right to left

with all its rivers, mountains, borders and creases.

The Great Steppe becomes deaf in her sleep,

and warblers’ chafferings, however urgent and annoying, melt into the bombings.

Taste of metal in their little beaks and the whooshing sound, like tinnitus in their ears.

Confused by the dust, their world is no longer borderless.

Do they look left or right? Right or left?

Europe or Asia?