A Poem By Anna

At Millie, we believe in the power of personal stories to forge deeper connections and expand perspective. Who better to deepen our understanding than women from Ukraine? Together with Galina Itskovich, a Brooklyn-based/Ukrainian-born clinical social worker/psychotherapist, and the NGO Community Self-Help, we are working to amplify Ukrainian voices. Our first project together is a new series featuring personal essays written by women on the ground in Ukraine. 

By Anna Puškelja Kurіlova, June 10th, 2022 (2 minute read)

At first, it felt like shame to pee in a jar in the basement.

with strangers around...
With explosions up there.
And the choice was between dignity and life.
It felt like shame when Makar threw up into his hood (nothing else was on hand) after forty hours on the bus
The choice was between sitting in smelly clothes and getting on the road to a foreign country and staying outside.
It felt like shame to go into [someone's] home and take shoes off.
Thirteen people we were. We didn't take off our shoes for many days.
The choice was between mumbling, "sorry" and sleeping outside
I agreed to be disgusting.
And then we washed our clothes.
Went into the shower. Washed socks in the toilet washer and threw away the hood of the jacket
All these things didn't make us unworthy. Bad. Nasty. Second-rate...
We did not remain dirty, no matter what we had done to stay alive!!!

(Ukrainian refugees fleeing. Image: BBC)

It's over
We will wash the body and soul.
And we will never remember in conversation how someone peed in a jar next to us
We'll color the gray hair
Everything will stay behind, in the war zone.
I promise,
We will wash off all:
Basement dust and the smell of dirty laundry,
Blood, sweat.
It's a shame that not everyone was saved.
It's disgusting that we did not get to spit in the face of the occupier when we passed with the humanitarian convoy.

Everything will wash off.
Just save who you are!!!
I've always repeated to myself,
"If I die, I will not smell better than now."
It helped


(Buses taking refugees out of war zone. Image: CNN)

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