Selections from the Besieged Collection

Poems by Stephen G. Kennedy
Images by the Rev. Mary Emily Green

Father Andrew Zelinskyy, Chief Chaplain, Ukrainian Catholic Church:  7.5″ x 9″, pen on card stock, created 3.18.22
Woman Holding Infant:  7″ x 8.5″, watercolor on watercolor paper, converted to monochrome scan, created 3.28.22
Young Man Wearing Knit Hat and Hoodie:   7.5″ x 9″, Charcoal pencil on card stock, created 4.2.22

Besieged is a collection of eighteen image-poem pairs that were created in 2022 by artist Mary Green and poet Stephen G. Kennedy. Green created the pencil portraits of people she saw on television news stories about the war in Ukraine. Kennedy wrote poems to accompany the images. The creators of this series hope to use proceeds from the project to support the people of Ukraine.

The priest whispers, every prayer 
is an island until laid like a stepping stone,
one to another, over death
and the brute racket of bullets. 

Church bells strike a village heartbeat,
summon the missing into their midst,
into a mosaic of searching voices,
to quicken crossing of impossible waters.

Night descends into prayer, morning surprises
the gray mouse of sun sneaking
from its hole in a searing horizon.

A neighbor still alive means a dance
across fraught pitted streets
to see a mother, bring her tea,
present her with his lone red rose,
offer to count the toes on her little one.

The half-moon is a white anchor amid
a sea of sparks and cannon-fire, his city 
will not sink, no one drown, he will grow old
mending sails for the young who will lead.

So many suns choose to rise that a thousand rifles
melt into minnows in sunstruck streams,
village men cast visions into illuminated pools,
children giggle, float paper boats to heaven.

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