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Syndic Literary Journal

Garden Revisited

For Borys Chystiak and Nadiïa Kiryanova,

Olexandre Chystiak and Vassyl Kostenko, in memoriam

Written by Dmytro Chystiak

Translated from the Ukrainian by the poet

Narrated by Bill Wolak


I see you again in white, like a fiancé,

or under the cherry blossoms,

even if I never knew you young:

“What about war? In Rzhishchiv,

one day I look for fish in the Leglytch,

and Uncle Vassyl, who became a friend for the Nazis,

calls out to me from the water: “It’s up to you to walk my geese,

it’s up to me to give you a glass of milk and some salt,”

this work allowed my brother to survive.

The elders, they cut the wires of the railway.

Famine on famine, they add years for me,

and sent riding on the train to Kyiv, I fall,

twist my leg and keep the criminals in the Urals,

including Uncle Vassyl, after his return

we drink to peace.” You’re still young

faceless, just a ray, under the petals

of the garden you planted and which now is engulfed in flames.


You’re in gray at the window,

erase your old girl’s tears:

“It’s the song, on the maple, death,

love, and Ukraine, so I cry, why?

After the war, from the Urals, I join my brother,

he rebuilds Kyiv, I sew day and night,

so we all lived, all together,

he comes, he says: “I’ll do everything, you’ll see,

you’ll see me, two is better, and we’re still living.”

The sun hits the window, to tears: “It’s here

that she fell,” you tell me, you are no longer in white,

but gray, the swallows fly away from the house

which you have built and which descends into the infernal circles.


The flight of the morning stork,

the dew under the scythe, the waves of wine,

song after song, ray after ray,

flower after flower, I find the river of gold

with blue wings, trembling water lilies,

to the passions of the sunset where my father drowned,

to the matthiolas who drowned our thunderous loves,

we unsatisfied nightingales,

we made the silver stars shine,

we shone with them in these rivers,

milky, young, disturbing, in the foam

of our fathers, of our unborn children . . .

The star fell, bloodied with fire.


No more orchard, grandfather, it’s war,

no more house, grandmother, father, aunt, mother,

so many killed in us in an instant,

I’m the last of the family to moan

in the fumes, weaving the thread below

missiles, into nothingness, like a charm

on my blood just to live until dawn,

until love, until childbirth,

the word that bears not ashes,

the strength of the living and the resurrected dead

on this scorched earth, beyond the mists of war,

the foggy mirrors of the snows, the artificial

paradises of lunar night, these dead leaves

become too green against the saw:

the word like a cherry blossom

of the solar orchard that I have seen

on your face of a fiancé.

Kyiv, 31.ІІІ.22


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
History of Syndic
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