Portrait of Mother and Child

Portrait of Mother and Child
Photo courtesy of Ohmatdyt Children’s Hopsital, Kyiv, Ukraine, March, 2022

Olga’s head’s swathed in gauze.
Red flecks of laceration,
blue shadows around her eyes.
Her chest’s bare where her infant feeds
from injured breasts, infant she cupped
her body over when the missile struck.
Head-shaved husband stands, head bent,
at her side, his hand on her shoulder:
Saint Joseph in a hoodie, her Dmytro
with shrapnel in the leg.

Instead of a candle
we will shine the blue light
of our phone screens
at their feet as we scroll past.

It was not the explosion, Dmytro says,
that woke him, but Olga’s screaming
and the sound of glass shattering.
He gazes down at the baby,
miraculous as any child
born in ruin.

One of Olga’s hands
searches the baby’s body
for metal fragments.
A gold heat blanket’s crumpled
on her lap as if she had to use
her halo as a cover.

She supports the baby’s head
with two fingers
as she stares out with a concussed
puzzlement. Or is it an accusation?
She stares out and dares us to stare back.

What are you looking for?