They told us we needed to evacuate. To pack sandwiches, light valuables,
our important papers, and that we’d be back in three or four days.
By 3:00 p.m. the doddering bus, displaced with passengers
riled by nausea, urged the driver to pull over.
The ill vomited near the roadside, their faces the color of steel wool.
Up ahead a phalanx of daisies laced a river,
the water moving east gleamed like plated chrome.
At the checkpoint bridge, I recall a soldier
who wore a dust mask, and was wrapped in gauzy safety garb.
He told us the radiation doses were nine times higher than normal.
Thirty years have passed since then.
Thick on my mind, memory smolders,
and the gap between Belarus and Ukraine
feels no wider today than a fence strand.
No wider than the divot in my upper lip idling,
over a jigger of bourbon
as daybreak coughs up visions
tethered to another world.
Robert Karaszi, a Pushcart Prize nominee, worked as a lyricist/songwriter for an independent record label and also freelanced as a writer for upcoming artists. His poetry has appeared in many journals such as Hawaii Pacific Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Front Porch Review, The Aurorean, New Plains Review, and has work forthcoming in Red Rock Review. Currently, he resides in New Jersey.17