This is our land. The land into which you grow roots — knee-deep, waist-deep, shoulder-deep. The land where you stand your ground and which you will never leave. Which rises into the sky and rains down on you in blackened raindrops. Which clings to your hands and permeates your smells.
Our dead breathe through her, their blood flows in our trees, their memories ooze from the apples that fall off the tree longing to touch her. You hear your ancestors whispering through the wind, through the silence, through the storm.
This land is moistened with our blood, our tears, rainwater, melted snow. She is our love. We’re not giving her away.
We are the trees that have taken roots in this soft black-soil infinity — roots that are intertwined, holding each other’s hands. These roots go deep into the heart of the planet; you will never chop them off, you will never break them. Because you, enemy, do not know what roots are. You, enemy, don’t know what it’s like to be on your own land.
Our people stand knee-deep, waist-deep, shoulder-deep in her. They are Scythian statues planted deep for thousands of years to come. They are her children who draw strength from her through their bare feet. She doesn’t get tired of giving birth to them. To them, she is a mother, a lover, a sister, a universe. To them, she is food and water, day and night, dream and reality. Even when she takes them away, — those who are bleeding to death, those who are starved, those who are killed in their homes by Russian half-ton bombs — this blood gives her the strength to give birth to more of these giant people, these rock-solid people.
We protect our land, and it protects us. She moans with the beat of our hearts but also knows what she will give even more — more hearts, more souls, more hands, more eyes. We are born through it again. We press our ears to her warm body and hear her songs. From them, we spin our music.
Our enemy loves death. He’s in love with her cold, lifeless darkness. It turns people into the living dead. Into soulless machines. Into obedient slaves who can’t live without obeying someone’s orders. Who can only imagine being either masters or slaves. Who doesn’t know what friendship and partnership are. What equality and horizontal relations are. Our enemy was born out of necrophilia. Of a perverse love of destruction.
He hates freedom. He doesn’t understand what it’s like to be free. What it’s like to be free and to accept the freedom of others. What it’s like to be free and do something together. For him, freedom is the weapon that kills him. For us, freedom is the air we breathe. It is the blood that flows in our veins. It is the language we speak.
Our enemies do not know what native land is. They live in a territory, not on land. They do not know how to take care of what belongs to them, that’s why they are so eager to grab what belongs to someone else. Everything they touch turns into a desert. They have a hatred for everything that grows on its own. For everything that gives life.
Our enemy knows no boundaries for what belongs to him. He wants to grab everything because he loves nothing. He has lost his empire and is trying to restore it. But these are his last throes. Movements of an old, frail body that still thinks it can hunt someone down. That it can take off the ground in a high jump.
But here on our land, death is awaiting him. And it will be the death of death itself, for our enemy is the realm of destruction. He does not know that land has power. That she’s fighting too. That she hates those who don’t value her. Those who are used to being strangers everywhere.
Stay with me today, our land asks us. Be with me tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and forever. Touch me, grow with me, eat from me, drink from me. Feel my heartbeat. Feel my lungs expand and contract. I breathe and live, too. I have dreams, too. In these dreams, I see you. And the dead, and the living, and the unborn. I take your lives in. I give birth to new lives.
Stay with me tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and forever, our land asks us. Stay with me.
* The Ukrainian version of the text was written for the Kraina Magazine, translated into English for the “Wars.Ukrainians.Humanity.” programme with the author’s consent.