Inside the Cathedral of Assumption

| by Kit de Waal

Six West Midlands writers visited Ukraine earlier this year. Kit de Waal shares her creative response to the city of Kyiv.


β€œI watched this woman inside the Cathedral of the Assumption. She seemed to know the church very well but she did not pray and she did not look pleased to be there. I wondered who she was and why she came. I learnt that the Church was rebuilt in 2000 and I realised who she might be”

I am late today so the tourists come, getting in my way with their cameras, their necks craned up to the golden ceiling, along the golden walls as the white light dances from the white candles. They skirt me, an old woman with my head bowed. They think I pray.

But I do this for you. Far east and far west, I trace along our family tree, then north, then south and chant the litany of things we have lost, you and I. Mother, I say and father, and wife and son or daughter grandmother and you, the grandfather you would have been with a stick and soft soled shoes.Kit De Waal2 resize

They hear me mutter and think I make the sign of the cross when I touch my heart where you live, my head where I keep our memories.

I do this for you. I make my recitation of the days of your life. Your birth, I say and your days in school and your nights at home, birthdays and holidays, quiet days of winter, sharpening your pencils at the table, chips of wood in your hair. Your hair.

They hear me gasp and when they see me cover my eyes and wipe the water from my cheek, they think I weep for Our Lord.

For my benediction I curse Him for you. I curse the red that leaks from His palms and the true blue of his Holy eyes and I yearn to tell them how it ended for us. You fallen from the scaffolding, your blood mixed with your paint, your eyes open and still and bluer than His ever were.

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I am late today. I slip my scarf into my bag and walk home past young men painting murals on the street. I always look for you.

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Read the next blog from Ukraine by Jonathan Coe.


Kit de Waal is a writer born in Birmingham. Her writing has received numerous awards including the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize 2014 and 2015 and the SI Leeds Literary Reader's Choice Prize 2014. Kit has written several short stories and her first novel is My Name is Leon.

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