Mama keeps a matryoshka doll
from Ukraine in the glass display
in the sitting room: opens it
for the children: reveals
how one rounded body fits inside
another. I know this story: fertility:
the others mama expects
from me. But each doll is also a shard
of mercy: a sheltering of other
within self. This story, then,
gleams with armour,
the figures war painted
Amazons. A matryoshka
is a band of women sharing,
In this one Szymborska poem,
the domestic work of cleaning spills
onto war’s stained battlefield.
Each matryoshka grips
both broom and spear.
Each is sliced with glory, with howl.
Anna Veprinska is the author of Empathy in Contemporary Poetry after Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) and Sew with Butterflies: poems (Steel Bananas, 2014), as well as the poetry chapbook Spirit-clenched (Gap Riot Press, 2020). She is a current SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto.