You arrive in late March,
on a chilly, moonless night,
in temperatures causing
snuggling beneath my coverlet.

Your ritualistic unfurling begins
on the lowest of boughs.
Buds glisten in morning dew,
shoots suckle sunshine.

Leaves open in the swaddling,
unveiling spring’s reawakening.
Birds nudge sap inside blooms,
then, waltz over treetops, chirping.

Children, without coats, frolic.
Sweet nectar douses the air,
like succulent French sachets.
We are inspired to live life breathlessly.


Along the boulevard by the Black Sea,
is a grove of chestnut trees,
where bodies lie, holding hands
awaiting final destiny.

That was yesterday, not today.
Lost is living without fear.
The world, turning their backs.
Ukraine, a country of homelessness.

I pick up my oboe,
like I did in the Philharmonic in Kyiv.
I lean in closer to Sofia and say,
“Tonight, I am playing Sonata in C Major,
your favorite, my dear.”

I touch her cold, frail hand,
kiss her pallid cheeks and begin to play.
Joy touches her face immediately.
She smiles repeatedly to me.

Caressing soulful melodies echo
in the dark abyss underground,
sheltering from the unrelenting bombings
above ground, all around.

But that night, Sofia, his beloved, died,
cradled in his loving arms.
God doesn’t recognize them anymore.
She is whispering in the wind.

His eyes, full of tears,
awaiting the crushing silence,
beneath the chestnut trees lining
the boulevard by the Black Sea.
His soul severed

JoAnn Koff is a poet and a photographer. Her philosophy of poetry is deeply rooted in the symbiotic relationship between a word and an image. Art is an umbilical cord to connect us she believes. She is a graduate of The University of Lynchburg who taught high school English and Creative Writing. Her book, Sand, Pebbles, Fossils, and Rocks (Sappho Publishing), was nominated for the Library of Virginia’s Literary Award in Poetry for 2019. She resides in Virginia with her husband.