The day before the invasion began Shirley Hughes
died peacefully at home aged 94
following a short illness.
of glorious, colour-filled pages;
cascades of birthday parties, school fetes,
toys piled high, red welly boots,
yellow welly boots, family gathered,
warm light on cold nights,
star shapes on the bedroom ceiling.
There is no Alfie in Kyiv, no Annie Rose
in Kharkiv. There was a Kirill
in Mariupol but he is there
no more. No more
storybooks, no more bedtimes.
Just a February wind blowing
empty and bitter across the Azov.
If the children don’t matter, then
no one matters. Vladimir Vladimirovich,
may it not be peaceful for you.