Silhouette of dog in destroyed Ukrainian building

One Poem by Sabrina Kirby

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A dog walks amid the destruction caused after a Russian attack in Byshiv, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 27, 2022.
  – AP photo caption

Farm dogs trail hay mowers, anticipating bloody morsels.
I do not think this dog is here for food, though it may be.
Its ears are not pricked forward but toward each side.
Its tail is carried low and furled, hindquarters slightly tucked,
as paws pick their way through what may have been
a yard, across ground littered with fragments of brick and metal.
A standing square of wood: a table on its side? yes, two legs
at opposite corners point across the dog’s apparent path.
This table, let’s call it that, and a short segment of tree trunk,
birch perhaps, with one long spray of branches still intact
are the only objects in the foreground whole enough to name;
and in the middle distance an upright length of chain link fence
those branches partly hide. Across a narrow street
stand low stone buildings with empty windows, blown-out roofs:
more houses maybe, or house and barn, flanked by power poles.
It is toward the fence, or the street, or the houses beyond
that the dog appears to be slowly walking. The dog lived here or it didn’t.
It sees no need to hurry, or it can’t: its front legs in a wide arthritic stance
steady the hind legs emerging from the photo’s bottom edge.
The dog is old, or young and in shock, or hungry. I imagine it sees
the blind empty houses and aims to go there, imagine it curled
in a corner later, having found no food, or maybe there will be a rabbit
or rat that it can catch or it can’t. Maybe there are people somewhere;
maybe at the church with one gold dome and two small blue ones
up the street at the far edge of the photo, should the dog turn
in that direction, there will be someone with some scrap to spare
for a dog. Or maybe somewhere a morsel the crows have left
among the wreckage, the machines having moved on.




Sabrina KirbySabrina Kirby recently began writing poetry again after a 20-year hiatus. She lives and writes in central Pennsylvania.

Header photo—silhouette of a stray dog in Kharkiv, Ukraine, following a Russian military missile attack—by Drop of Light, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Sabrina Kirby by Deb Slade. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.