Thursday, February 8, 2024

Traces everywhere

Jeopardy accompanies us always, and rescue can come in many guises.
~Svetlana Lavochkina, translator

Happy Poetry Friday! What are you up to? I am working on a flash fiction short story (1,000 words or under). Something different for me! That's what comes of being open (my One Little Word for 2024).

Today's poem I Pick up my Footprints is by Ukrainian poet Vasyl Holoborodko and can be found in Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine.

I Pick up my Footprints
by Vasyl Holoborodko

I stoop to pick up my footprints,
somebody seeing me might think
I’m gathering mushrooms,
healing herbs,
or flowers into a bunch,
but no —
I collect my footprints,
my traces everywhere
I walked for many years:
Here are the footprints I left while herding sheep on the steppe.
Here, I took this path to school,
and these are my steps from my route to work.

“I’m gathering my footprints here
so that strangers don’t trample them,”
I tell anyone who’s curious.

a footprint is —
a symbol, by definition, of:
“something rooted in the past”)

In my mind, I slip my footprints
between the pages —
now whenever I read a book,
I chance upon an old footprint:
I study it for a long time,
the footprint I left as a child
walking beneath a cherry tree.

All the footprints gathered so far,
an entire footstep herbarium in books —
if I put them all in one row,
their path wouldn’t lead me home.

Translated from the Ukrainian by Svetlana Lavochkina


Beyond LiteracyLink has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Carol!


Denise Krebs said...

Tabatha, what a heartbreaking ending to that poem. The line "an entire footstep herbarium in books" made me smile, and then I cried getting to the last line. Thanks for sharing this rich one.

Michelle Kogan said...

What a beautiful poem, I was so moved by it, I didn't want it to end… So many parts feel so visual and sensitive, "I’m gathering my footprints here/so that strangers don’t trample them,"and "I slip my footprints/between the pages — " Happy flash story writing! I'm navigating by my list and hope to move away from it soon, thanks Tabatha!

Irene Latham said...

Dear Tab, are you leaving your footprints in that flash fiction? Of course you are! Yay for being OPEN...I'm excited for your new venture. Me? footprinting my way through a YA novel. xo

Bridget Magee said...

Thanks for sharing Holoborodko's poem, Tabitha. So many footprints we leave behind as we walk through life. Sending you sparks of inspiration for your flash fiction short story. I'm *open* to reading it if you're willing to share. :)

Linda B said...

What poets do is make us think and make us care about others and what they are feeling. And you share those kinds of poems, Tabatha! Thank you, and best wishes for that new writing!

Tracey Kiff-Judson said...

I want to sit with this poem for a while. There are so many aspects to ponder, war, history, future, legacy, the meaning of life. Wow! Thank you for sharing.

I am wishing you success with your fabulous flash fiction!

jama said...

What a moving poem -- such a different approach, so vital, alive, and sensitive to the human condition. Thanks for sharing and good luck with your story. :)

Carol Varsalona said...

Tabatha, I thought the storyline of the poem would be sad based don't he title of the book. The journey is long and the ending articulates the feeling of the writer. Thanks for sharing. Open is an interesting OLW.

Rose Cappelli said...

I love that idea of picking up footprints and remembering where they've been. Thank you for sharing this lovely poem.

Janice Scully said...

I felt so sad thinking about all the footprints that have been disrupted by war. Such a bittersweet poem. The image of a footprint is profound in this poem and so provocative. Thanks for sharing this poet.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Such a devastating last line.... thank you for sharing this amazing poem, Tabatha, making us feel and think. Which I'm sure your flash fiction will do in its own way - best wishes for that adventure!

Patricia Franz said...

Wow, such a powerful poem, Tabatha. These words! We need to be reminded all the time the horror and scars of war.

laurasalas said...

Oh, that last line. Thanks for sharing this, Tabatha...

Margaret Simon said...

I wrote this definition of footprint in my journal. I'd love to explore it more. The poem uses the symbolism well and leads us to such a surprising end. Much to ponder .

Karen Edmisten said...

That final line. Heartbreaking.