Anastasia rises

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Her family home is blood-soaked rags and rubble

when Anastasia rises from her cot.

At first she’s pleased she’s suffered not one cut,

then shrieks: she wears an iridescent bubble

like those of the saints in Mama’s picture Bible

and the doorway to her life she finds slammed shut.

Though Mama won’t come now to quiet her shouts

she howls her anguish dry, then with the pliable 

mind of an infant examines this strange revival:

80 unlived years were blasted out, 

her clan of descendants also took the hit,

and all that underpins her soul’s survival

is a burning desire to comprehend what evil

would shell a child and blow her all to bits.

She floats above her block - now smouldering bricks -

absorbs the force of life from dying people

trapped beneath, then drifts toward the lethal 

silo whence her killers launched the attack

with confidence she’ll learn what sets alight

the will of men prepared to wage illegal

warfare, but draws blank in this chill locale.

The minds she finds are cowed, afraid not to fight.

They’re trained to kill their qualms and never fret.

Feeling she has not acquired a total

knowledge of what lets men feel entitled 

to murder children, she next seeks out the set 

of brass who chivvied troops to such conceit.

Here once more she turns up nothing vital:

the generals live in thraldom to a brutal

czar who deems democracy defeat.

Rocketing flame in her zest to establish facts

she plummets like a comet through the brittle 

substrate of the nighttime sky, sees battles,

rape and looting, a million outlawed acts

of atrocity her nemesis let out the box.

She skins his onion domes, pulls plug on his babble

of media brainwash, bores through his mind’s high gable

and figures out - just as her spirit’s stocks

of substance run dry, and as the tyrant starts

to sweat, exposed despite his long white table -

she might’ve saved her fading soul the trouble:

within the mind that ripped the world apart 

a vacuum of conception operates.

There’s nothing there but blood-soaked rags and rubble.

◄ Green sheets

The shock of silence ►


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Tim Ellis

Thu 18th May 2023 13:15

Thanks Keith. I was googling popular Ukrainian girls names and Anastasia was near the top of the list, and also had the right number of syllables for where I needed a name. Then I discovered that it means “resurrected one”, so I knew it was perfect for this poem.

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keith jeffries

Wed 17th May 2023 15:46

A powerful poem with a name to evoke an age where one murderous regime followed another.
Tim, thank you for this,

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