Becoming Shelter

Remaining human in wartime.

blue peacock wallpaper

At first, it was the usual set of former pets in wartime––cats and dogs. She stayed with them as the shelling continued. The ground was shaking, she says, of her arrival. The dogs were tearing holes in the fence with their teeth.

Later, it became clear that there was no one else to watch the turtles, the peacocks––and who would feed the lion? They left a land mine near his cage. She tried bribes. They detonated. The lion lived. They locked her in a room, killed her dog.  She buried Jina under a tree. When they locked her in a room, they told her she would die if she tried to leave. She left the room. It was time to feed the animals. It is always time, she says. Always.

It haunts her, to imagine the noises the horses made, neighing in the burning stables she could not reach. The shelling continues, and she continues here. It doesn’t matter who you protect, she says. You rescue what you can to remain human when war would make you forget.

***

On the work of Asya Serpinska, a seventy-seven-year-old Ukranian woman sheltering over 700 animals in Hostomel, roughly twenty miles northwest of Kyiv.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

2 thoughts on “Becoming Shelter”

  1. Oh, this is both heartbreaking and very moving. Beautiful in its own way too. What an amazing character Asya is. An example to us all. I do hope that this wonderful lady and the animals she cared for and saved are still alive and well. Beautifully written, Stacey.

    1. Ellie, thank you. I share your amazement at her stunning example of hope in the dark.

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