How do you make sense of what’s senseless? At Orion Magazine, Zarina Zabrisky reflects on what she saw and experienced while reporting on the war in Ukraine in 2022.

After nine months of traveling around Ukraine, I have come to understand that war feels inconceivable in its entirety. Too epic to contemplate as whole. So I have instead begun to seek the truth about existence during wartime by examining familiar objects snatched by explosions from their habitual context. As reality shatters into a million senseless shards, the meaning of one’s life is rearranged and reassessed midflight, constantly changing.

You don’t forget your first bombing. The stench of things burning. For a moment, all your senses are overwhelmed. Then, it’s scarily mundane.