One Day

A.H. Starlingsson
A forestbather in ukraine
4 min readMar 13, 2022

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I took off my helmet and washed my hair in vodka today. How I wish for a normal, soft hat. Someone called me and asked how I was. I felt only anger. Me? Me? Ask about Pasha who died throwing his bullet proof vest off to protect children with it. Ask the blind woman from Dnipro that I went to try to help get away, for a friend of mine in Poland. Blind. In terror. Tragedy comes in all forms. Children do not cry here. Children do not cry. I have not seen anything sadder than children that do not cry. Women, too, rarely, if ever cry. Only men cry. I cry. I have only one promise to make. I will never leave Ukraine. One day I will be able to wear my soft grey Alpine hat, and I will walk to the beautiful meadows high in the Carpathian mountains. One day we will meet there. One day. Until then, the only thing I know is there are different kinds of blind.

So my friend in Poland has accepted two Ukrainian woman into her flat. Two women, and their cats. Polish is somewhat similar to Ukrainian, but so far they do not understand each other, because the two Ukrainian women do not speak. They cannot speak. Not because their tongues have been ripped out, but because they have nearly lost their minds from the bombing, murder, journey, dehydration and fear.

So they no longer speak, and are in near permanent shock. Maybe it is permanent. Who knows. I mentioned murder, because some of the troops with the Russians specialise in this particular tactic. Others go to villages, break into houses with residents there and steal all the food. They also steal clothes, and tools.Witnessing this is very tough, because we know what the next step is. I spent an hour telling a woman looking after her parents she had to leave. Her parents would not:

‘Where would they go?’ she said.

The Russian troops were pushed out of the village by superb Ukrainian fighters, but they will be back. And the young woman, with her earnest English had to go, to leave. Had to. And anyone just witnessing a rape had a chance of being shot, too.

Among us, with the Ukrainians, we also have different groups. Some I cannot say, but others are made up of lawyers, accountants, librarians and others, who are pacifists, but have bought or been given weapons, because they know they have no choice. My heart bleeds. How will they survive, when the attacks come. But I can ask the same for myself. The tyrant dictator in Moscow favours murder. He favours murder of civilians, and foreigners, but does not mention Ukrainian fighters, because he is scared of them. Anything he says motivates them more.

Nothing motivates me. But motivation is not needed. Making a stand for freedom does not need motivation. I realise president Zelensky is right, the world is not doing everything to try to negotiate a peace deal. It is part of what shocks me. Serious negotiations for peace and a ceasefire are not even taking place formally with a negotiating country. NATO is united in their resolve I hear, but their resolve for what?

Do they actually enjoy looking businesslike, looking sympathetic and telling Putin to the camera only one step in their house will unleash something terrible. What, we do not know because they don’t know. They will not be defending the valiant Baltic States, like Estonia, or Lithuania anyway. They pretend to, and say it, but take no serious measures to protect them, and in fact cannot. Any glance at a map will show that.

So NATO is not doing what it should be, but we don’t notice because Russia lies so much . Russia lies about everything, and has taken this lying to new levels. There are lies within lies, and on top of lies. How could anyone believe them? How?

Food is available. So are friendly faces. And cold. Cold is very available. Cold from the cement floor, seeping up to the back. A cold that one does not shake off. A debilitating cold.

Tomorrow, new supply lines are needed. I cannot say from where, because I do not know, but also because I must show I do not know, because of who might be reading this. You will have to read between the lines, but you also need to know how wrong it is to parade around announcing NATO will not fly over Ukrainian skies to scale down the war, terribly wrong.

listen!
to the bees in the long grasses
 — not yet, not yet

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A.H. Starlingsson
A forestbather in ukraine

—dispatches from Ukraine🌲currently writing "Distant Taps The Woodpecker," https://federated.press/@callsign_santa contact: starlingsson@gmail.com_