home – is looking at familiar things through someone else’s eyes
like a photo
where morning sun spills out of the frame

where you can walk barefoot or with your shoes on
and grandmother long ago departed puts dough
on the stove (to rise)

where boundaries are so thin
that it’s impossible to feel your body
as it merges with space, mist and time

where he invites you home for the first time
and cooks for you
and then you watch Legally Blonde

where it can be so frightening that you forget to breathe
and so free
that you forget how frightening it can be

I was once cycling late at night
and trucks roared by
carrying various things
and the wind behind them was so strong
that I gripped so hard my hands glowed in the dark

lying at the edge of unknown woods I would think
that I had never reached home
and how quickly the great power in the sky flips the switch on and off

my body is built from wood and stone
I have no idea why I have a blue passport
THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS sounds like a sentence
I close my eyes and see:

a fox is quietly snooping around
among hollow bare trees
my younger brother is wearing a thick snow suit
and Hera the dog
(in honour of the Greek goddess, of course)
is leading us forward through snowdrifts

the big adventures of a little man
in a world where I defy with all my branches
borders passport controls and visas

home – is where no home is
only the idea of home
created in the philosopher’s imagination

where I move things again and again
from place to place
from one body into another
from one universe into another

where death becomes the epigraph
of every unfinished book

where Buenos Aires is mentioned so often
that I feel the wind with the tip of my nose

where winter changes places with autumn and spring
but summer hangs out with you in another park
a few metro stations away –
and you can sit on the grass and watch
handsome guys stripped to their shorts
chasing a ball

at the passport control you make yourself smile
because it could happen
that this country will be too good for you
too rich and generous

what do I feel living in another country?
only sadness that it gets dark so early

home – is to get up and fall down slowly
going through all the letters
and not finding them until you fall

when I was inside the belly
was a seed was a beginning was nothing
already then I think I was choosing myself a language
and somehow it happened
that Belarusian swam by and vanished into my umbilical cord

maybe it’s not me who’s writing
not the tips of my fingers tapping the letters
but the Belarusian language itself
has drifted up and inspired

what can I say about Polish and Georgian?
only that they are still straggling in my branches

home – is a taut bowstring in yew’s hands
I try to recollect:
water burbling, demolished doorstep
class teacher who dismisses you from school assembly
(as you’re not dressed appropriately)
first kiss with a boy (I can’t remember his name)
great grandmother stiff in her coffin and January
and then the arrow flies and hits the mark

what country would I like to live in?
I’ll ask new leaves in the spring

home – is a bird that’s watching you
one-eyed like a camera
begging for bread and cheese

this is what it asks: are you leaving or staying?
it is watching and watching

my ideas of places collide with reality
and win
I am the ball in the hands of the handsome Polish guys
my galaxy is rich in satellites

my closed eyes draw on his arms
a floor and a ceiling
sixty square metres of loneliness and fullness

home – is the happiness of not asking questions
and guessing the answers
going into infinity with no spacesuit or training

unfurling the endless filigree
of wrinkles on wood

knowing from their eyes
who’s lonely and cold
passing through passing by
touching white hands with your hand

home – is to be afraid to think of home
like fearing a spank after your first cigarette
like fearing your own body after your first sex

there’s nothing left – and there’s everything
trains set like jelly
flights severed
sour cranberry on the tongue
and so free as if this winter will never end
without ever arriving


what makes me a privileged person?

an American passport
a French passport
a German passport

a passport on which I can travel anywhere
my imagination goes

a passport
which I take from my small town
in the North of France
to other towns in search of home
which I’m still looking for

being French is being privileged

salted butter
free education
high salaries and unemployment benefit

being French is being privileged

urban growth
elite society
underdeveloped street art

if I had enough money
I would learn how to build a house and would build it
home – is like the body: contact with reality
the feeling of delight and pain
which I’ll listen to, touch and see
feel the pungent smell of expensive wood
germinate in it

being a French is knowing
that every day people die
trying to cross closed borders

people with the freedom and responsibility
to make their own choices

people who make me
smile and cry


my friend said:
if you’re so happy
make a wish and it’ll come true

we were hitchhiking to Kutaisi
in spring
I remember
I made a wish and it came true

maybe my wish was a home
close to friends, family and books
close to the sea, a river or a lake

the only thing I feel is chaos
where my body
is something that people don’t choose by themselves
body as chaos

from the inside of which I’m watching old Tbilisi
increasing the distance
it must calm me down

what wish did I make?


a reality of life
the Pacific Ocean
the American West Coast

places to which I’m tied by memories
people I feel ‘at home’ with
are everywhere
where my hands touch sand and water

my body lacks the feeling of a certain place
subordinated to the strict rules of existence
what does it mean to be a German, I ask him
silence in response
my body doesn’t meet my expectations
doesn’t meet anyone’s expectations
authoritarian in its own state

the balance of bodies in space
is an opportunity to feel alive and risen
in search of new everyday experience
of life and resurrection

not all borders will vanish tomorrow
but is a welfare state possible?
without visas and other papers
that justify the existence of borders
in the boundless world

everything I believe in fits the German language
which beats French and Farsi

what does it mean to be a German, I ask
and watch
wave after wave breaking on the shore


I’m about five
mum comes to Lviv for the weekend
(she works in another town)

did she feel her return to our home
was like coming back ‘home’
the thing I feel
even when I return to the hotel during a long holiday
‘home’ is a place where I stay
rather Germany than Ukraine

I’m tired of other people’s obsession with ‘homeland’

grandad wakes me up with subtle knocking
on the wooden wardrobe
in football fans’ rhythm
one, two, one-two-three

the rhythm of non-struggling with visas
and a work permit
a living permit
the rhythm of moving to Germany
and Scandinavian countries
the rhythm of liberal policies
that support immigration
of qualified specialists
the rhythm of tourism without borders

we meet mum at the bus stop
then she drinks coffee with my sister in the kitchen

I want to feel the town alive
I hate the chance of returning to Ukraine
and it has nothing to do with the war
it’s just that I no more belong to this country

the aroma!

that unites me with the aroma of coffee in the kitchen
sentimental devotion to places
great hopes and the loss of these hopes

I like the proportionality of German towns
to people
the feeling of social protection by the state
and hate the bureaucracy and left radicals

when mum and sister finish their coffee
we’ll go for a walk around the town centre


it happens that I’m proud of my country
my poor country
my cold country
where in autumn and winter one can
feel real loneliness
and dance with the morning mist
going home about five in summer
but more than weather forecasts
I mistrust media
what do they prepare for us every night?
what should I do with this news?

does the country matter if I’m a child of the world?
look, I can choose different colours,
choose the music
to which it’s comfortable to fly past asteroids

does home matter if my body is a magic machine
in which all experience of earthly life is available?

it happens that I’m proud of my country
the country where I’ve been robbed three times
but what was stolen?
here it is – my home
the place I consider my home

I’m looking into nowhere from the plane window
and hear: come back


I grew up near lake Ohrid
lake Ohrid grew up in my heart
and people splash in it like big fish

from time to time I think
that my country doesn’t want me
that my country doesn’t take me
for a daughter for a citizen

I thank it
and watch the distance grow between us
like a lump in the throat

and my heart tears apart in big drops
for there’s no place
I’m tied to
like a guard dog

when people ask me where I’m from
I say North Macedonia (and don’t believe it myself)

if there were no borders
I would lie at the edge of woods
reading Stefan Zweig about yesterday
and pat my passport in my pocket softly

I’d think about those close to me
it means
I’d think about home

during the conflict
more than twenty years ago
in Skopje mall
my mom told me
(the way they say it to lovers in the morning
touching the shoulder skin with lashes)
not to speak Albanian
(she thought something might happen to us)

I think something may happen to us
and pat my passport in my pocket softly

Translated into English by Hanna Shakel
Edited by John Farndon
When people ask me where I’m from
The present work was created in the frame of the project #EUmeetsEurope, a joint project of the Genshagen Foundation and the ERSTE Foundation, supported by the German Federal Foreign Office