Here the Lilies Grow by Nellie P. Strowbridge

Poem name: Here the Lilies Grow Poet name: Nellie P. Strowbridge Poem: For Victoria Mukhina and Daughter Miroslava The warm hands of a mother and daughter Open the cold earth to plant white lilies In scarred and shattered Mariupol, Walls and roofs underfoot, They lift guarded faces to an uneasy sky, Surviving now their purpose. Amid the screech of machinery louder than a human cry Lilies shudder and still they grow, Life springing up through weapon-cratered soil. Under skies stained by fire and smoke, Bicycle wheels spin in the air Stop beside its rider fallen and twisted, Others’ hands escaping a black shroud, tell a story: Red fingernails torn away, others blackened, the owners’ silence deep as death. Near potatoes spilled from a torn white bag, Bodies lie like flesh on a spit, hands tied, heads bound in streets that are now open graves. We look away from images of An unclad child, innocence taken, Discarded among other unliving innocents Disfigured on blood-stained stairs and in stairwells: People who were On their way to work On their way to market On their way to giving birth On their way to escaping terror from the skies. And still the lilies grow. Millions watch, crying tears as clear as rain; Ukrainians cry tears of blood. And in intermittent silence Hope rushes in to fill Ukrainians Seeking help to close the skies Against evil darker than the darkest night From a neighbor meant to be a brother. Ukrainians live to love their land, heads unbowed Live for the dawning of a day When war gives way to peace. For them the lilies bloom. End of poem. Credits and bio: Copyright © Nellie P. Strowbridge Nellie P. Strowbridge is the author of thirteen books, her latest: The Hanged Woman’s Daughter. She has won provincial and national awards and has been published nationally and internationally. Her work is capsuled in The National Archives as Newfoundland and Labrador’s winner in Canada’s Stamp of Approval Award for a letter written to Canada 2117. Strowbridge is a seventeen times winner in the NL Arts & Letters Awards. Al Purdy included her, in the Sandburg Livesay Award Anthology No Choice but to Trust, among the outstanding populist poets around the world. She has been Writer in the Library, a mentor to young writers, an adjudicator in the NL Arts and Letters Awards, an assessor on the NL Projects Grants Committee, a judge on the WANL Book Awards and Fresh Fish Awards. She has held school workshops in Canada and Ireland and hosted a Seminar/Gabfest for International Women’s Day in Cobh where she was Writer-in-Residence. The Canadian Embassy in Dublin sponsored a reading and reception. The author is a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada, The League of Canadian Poets (2009 NL & NS Representative), Writers’ Alliance of NL and Page One.