Ever since February 24th, my life has been narrowed into brief interludes between air-ride sirens, empty shelves, and the lambent light of basements. 

My neighbors have left while I stay put, they say that trains are being bombed.

I know the streets where I’ve grown old, and though my dreams have been replaced by coping, taking care of the stray animals left behind.

At night doubt comes to visit, but with daylight, I’ve decided to stay, for how can I be sure?

I shall see again the world on the first of May I tell myself, but what will world be then? Will Paris have ceased? London? New York?

This place I know, and through the shelling, I hear the leaves are bursting to break.

Soon April will end, then summer arrives, and then with fall, there will be walnuts again.

I stay behind.

Still Life Almonds and Walnuts
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Today we write prosery with Merril at dVerse. She has chosen the following part of a poem:

“For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May”
–From “May Day” by Sara Teasdale

To incorporate into your own piece of prose having no more than 144 words. I prefer to match that exactly but you are free to make your own choice.
I am thinking a lot about both the people fleeing the war, but I think it is important to remember also those staying behind.

May 9, 2022

20 responses to “Walnuts

  1. Very poetic, as as you said melancholy feeling. I can imagine this as so true. I like the idea of waiting for the walnuts, that tangible thing we hold onto.

  2. The last two paragraphs are stunning, Bjorn. I hope Ain gets to read this. Made even more powerful written in the first person.
    I keep thinking about the women and children who fled months ago….do they even know if their husbands, brothers, or sons are alive? How will they find out? If they die, how with they find where they are buried and how will they have the closure of praying at their grave? Such a sad sad thing…and for what? One man’s evil. I thought after Nazi Germany the world said “never again”?

  3. This has the ressonance of a superb short story. I really like it very much — reminds me have been living in their cellars, shelters, metro stations for over a month now, some two months as I understand. I was just thinking about that today though, how I understand some people refusing to leave. But making the person a loner gives so much more emotional depth to the story.

  4. Well done Bjorn! Staying behind has to be a difficult choice, but sometimes the choice is made for you. I liked this line…
    At night doubt comes to visit, but with daylight, I’ve decided to stay, for how can I be sure?

  5. “the lambent light of basements” … I love that line. How beautiful. I love how you split and repurposed the quote. Very clever. A true soldier, journalist, humanitarian, or lover of home would absolutely make this choice. And oh, the walnuts—that was the perfect touch. A detail of beauty, a sensate connection, something natural to look forward—new seasons will always come around to heal and renew.

  6. I recently saw a news story about a woman living underground in a train car. I could see the fear and uncertainty in her eyes. I wept with her how very unsettling to have your very existence hinge on threads of hope. How did this ever happen? Your words are a voice for those left behind.

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