The question ‘where are you from?’ lacks a verb.
Where are you running from?
Where have you broken free from?
Where have you crawled
on your bloody elbows and knees from?

and do you think you’ve really escaped

Chaffinches used to fly to my window
and eat sunflower seeds from the feeder.
The sun was a god that showed himself rarely.
I ran in the park and I ran to work and I ran for my life.
I loved and I stopped. I loved and continued to do so.

when we saw the police, we would cross the street

Traces of military planes
covered pale blue skies of my city like lace.
I wrote words on walls, I wrote words on Twitter,
I wrote words to friends who sheltered from bombs
that fell from those planes.

words did not help

The houses around me still stood,
obscenely intact,
their windows not even taped.
I stayed for as long as I could,
then left,

leaving nothing behind


Sasha Abbasova is an Aotearoa-based writer hailing from Russia. Having left home after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and trying to make sense of that ongoing crisis through creative writing, Sasha is currently working on a novel about life in Russia over the years that led up to the war.