I hadn’t noticed before
as I dawdled in the wine bars and coffee shops of Southeast Portland
checking off the last of my errands, eager to get home.

That clamor from the street, car horns squawking like a gaggle of geese,
drivers roll down windows to whoop support then screech off toward their Saturdays
A rally in the park. Ukraine’s flags flutter to the tempo of protest anthems
Lyrics startle in their anger and chord progressions Men strum banduras Women weep

Skies darken, rains pelt, demonstrators disperse
A woman crosses the street to stand beside me on the curb
I extend my umbrella to enfold us both
We wait together for the light to turn

She tells me the university in Kiev is now in flames Her brother shelters
with classmates in a parking garage, their backpacks stashed
with kitchen knives. Her sister stands for hours in a queue
to learn to shoot a gun. They speak of their commitment to their country
I listen

And when I hear of the plea of her friend to care for her baby if she should die
this woman, younger than my daughter, trembles against my shoulder
I do not know her name, yet when she walks away I watch until the blue and yellow
billows out of sight and I am left still standing on the curb
in our despair

For we are both under invasion, after all.
Conspiracies and voter suppression shatter principles of justice and democracy
as surely as cluster bombs crumble cities into ashes and armies slaughter innocents
She needed to tell someone. I will not forget