Two Shards in the Mosaic of Our Time: Olga and Amellia

I heard their stories over the last week and was deeply moved by their courage...

From the fragments
they rise
glittering
like stars in the heavens
glowing
like sunflowers in the field
turning their faces to the light

iridescent shards
in the mosaic
of our time

a prima ballerina
leaving her homeland
and the Bolshoi
to join the Dutch ballet:
‘I am against war
with all the fibers
of my soul’
 
a little girl
all of seven
consoling others with song 
while sheltered
in a bunker
encouraging help
for her homeland
after escaping to Poland
with her grandmother
standing onstage
before a huge crowd
in traditional dress,
a little nightingale, singing
her national anthem:
The glory and freedom
of Ukraine
has not yet perished…”

They dance and sing
through the brokenness

iridescent shards
in the mosaic of our time

turning their faces to the light
like sunflowers in the field
glowing
like stars in the heavens
glittering
they rise
from the fragments.

Note: The sunflower and nightingale are national symbols of Ukraine

*******

with thanks to Wendy Everard, Tuesday host of Ethical ELA’s Open Write, for the idea of mosaic as a frame for poetry

with thanks also to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in the month of March

14 thoughts on “Two Shards in the Mosaic of Our Time: Olga and Amellia

  1. You’ve looked to the helpers, Fran, to the good shining through the evil storm. I have to admit that I’ve been avoiding the news these days, just catching the gist on PBS News to keep barely up to date. I’ve donated to a reputable medical outreach, but feel like everything else is beyond my sphere of influence.

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    • Ah, the wisdom of Mister Rogers – look for the helpers. I cannot take much of the news, either. Olga Smirnova’s story caught me; she’s a Russian who chose to leave her homeland in protest and deep grief over the war. Little Amellia had to leave her homeland, Ukraine, to survive the Russian invasion – this struck deep on many levels, including the fact that she escaped with her grandmother. One’s sphere of influence seems so small, sometimes. Our church is sending donations for relief in Ukraine.

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  2. This is the “terrible beauty” that Yeats wrote about. You’ve captured it so well. It’s tragic that people have to find this kind of courage in the fragments of their lives, but it is also encouraging that there are ways to find something beautiful and meaningful in the nonsensical. Your sunflower line also reminded me of the Whitman line where he said “Keep your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.” I first read those words at a time when I really needed them.

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    • Your references to the greats, Whitman and Yeats, are so magnificent here – thank you for this. “Finding something beautiful and meaningful in the nonsensical”: I was struck by the fact that these ladies represent each country, a homeland they had to leave. Olga is from Russia; she opposes the war and chose to leave her homeland and the renowned Bolshoi ballet. Little Amellia – and her grandmother – had to leave Ukraine, to live. Profound courage, on all counts.

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    • Thank you for catching the reverso 🙂 Yes – these two ladies represent countries on each side. Olga is from Russia; she left her homeland and the Bolshoi ballet in grief and protest of the war. Amellia and her grandmother fled Ukraine for Poland… all around, their courage is as profound as their creativity and artistry.

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  3. I have so many thoughts on this. First of all, I love that the shards are iridescent – a color that defies categorization to begin with. It’s *not* a color. You wouldn’t find it as a crayon or marker color. And yet. It says so much. It does so much.

    And the glimpses and images of gentle power you’ve brought us are just beautiful.

    I’m also thinking about the Maya Angelou poem – “And Still I Rise.” — “I rise / I rise / I rise.”

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    • Gentle power – yes, that’s what these ladies demonstrate… Olga, leaving Russia in protest, Amellia AND her grandmother fleeing Ukraine…yet giving so much beauty to the world. I love “And Still I Rise.” Thank you, friend 🙂

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  4. Fran, each time I read this I am more enamored with the shimmering stardust feel of rising from the depths of despair and shining. The metaphor of these fragmented young people whose homeland is in peril turning their faces to the sun like sunflowers in the field illustrates so beautifully the focus on the power through it all – – the Heavens. Your mosaic is gorgeous at the bottom.

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    • Thank you for these words, Kim. I’ve been so moved by the beauty these ladies give back to the world, each representing different countries in the conflict. Olga left Russia and the renowned Boshoi in grief and protest; Amellia and her grandmother had fled Ukraine…yet, with their amazing talents, they offer a piercing hope; they do rise, like the phoenix from the ashes and the stars in the heavens. I made the sunflower mosaic with Cartoona, from a photo I took last summer. Wanted it to represent the poem and Ukraine.

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