Lela Samniashvili reflects on the terrible costs of war
Listen to Lela Samniashvili read her poem "Military Drill" in the original Georgian.
Three years ago, during the war, our house was burgled.
When I returned everything was upside down,
Our possessions had probably borne those alien fingers with hatred.
They stole my gold ring and several bottles of wine.
They were probably in a hurry—only the drawers had been emptied.
They took nothing from the shelves.
And yet I was grateful—they had not burned my family album,
nor ripped up my books, even that they had left the house at all.
This will always be my shameful gratitude.
And today, just around the corner, almost in town
the military drills sound again as my child sleeps
in the room, while each passing tick of the clock feels like a slap in the face.
One-man empires threaten everything.
Our skeletons for them are sticks and stones,
as if they would fight each other using our bones as weapons.
As for us, let us carry our invisible kingdoms
through alien lands and alien harvests, for all eyes to see
kingdoms where we ourselves are the crowned kings.
Let us carry them, and in this coziness
let us have temporary shelter
until dwarfs and giants drill into them and crush them.
My child, I am ashamed of these tales. Don’t get accustomed to
malevolent endings like “the plague is there and so joy here.”
That doesn't exist. If it could, you mustn't wish for it.
Bringing out of our hidden kingdoms
this inherited tumor, this love not for homeland but for soil.
The lullaby of the machine gun.
Who can escape his own charisma,
when time so firmly, so loyally
hardens the fontanels of all our children.
© Lela Samniashvili. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018 by Natalia Bukia-Peters and Mac Dunlop. All rights reserved.