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I didn’t have time to say it that night.
Night is hearts with nerves of gold.
Come morning you step out of your barracks—
the sun is up above
and the fog is in between the trees.
Children’s souls shining through it,
its foundations are damp, final.
If you don’t want to think about me
think about those trees in the fog.
Think about them when you’re full of joy
when you want to cry.
The trees stand in the fog like radios —
sharing misfortune,
sharing plans.
If you don’t want to remember me,
when you need to be calm, when you need to be strong
think about the forest that stands as a boundary —
strong, sturdy, tall.
Think about steel roots,
think about the notches and the crown.
Let that earth, tarred and autumnal,
fill your black night with warmth.
Think about wet grass between the dunes
like that’s the way things ought to be.
I know what you’re really thinking about
when you think about trees.
I know, and I’m keeping it to myself
amid the fog and nighttime noise.
There’s nothing accidental.
There’s nothing.
Nothing at all.

© Serhiy Zhadan

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