to Judita Mackevičienė, who escaped in a potato sack
I sit in a potato sack
Life isn’t growing in the right direction
Through a hole in the coarse fabric I watch
The river Nemunas wipe away its tears with a bridge
to Fruma Kučinskienė, who hid from the Germans in Kulautuva
I remember a very innocent Kulautuva
Dainty wooden houses,
And him who
Is aiming a gun
At the back of the head
Of a pine-tree
And is saying,
your moaning is foreign to me
to Fruma Kučinskienė and the nettles in Kulautuva among which she was hiding
I’m hiding on the ground again
Face buried in the nettles
A swat, a sting, a tingle. Ouch, it’s painful, scheisse!
And it’s only by mistake
That my braids are still intact
(I can see him leaving,
Scratching his arm with a butt-stock)
to Bella Shirin, who badly wanted a Christmas tree... and got it
Says my mom,
It can’t be so
A little fir tree has grown
In the matzoh dough.
Says the tree,
It can’t be true
Bagels are bending the boughs
based on Stasys Dovydaitis’ recollections: from the forbidden candles on the Day of the Dead to the rally for Lithuania’s and Hungary’s freedom
Freedom for Hungary!
And for Lithuania!
Parks, streets, and squares are jammed
Then, straight from the labour camp,
A duke strides through the crowd –
Iodine and a bandage instead of a crown,
A dry matchstick instead of a sword.
A sea of candles is surging in town.
to Siegfried Gronau, a “wolf child,” who found himself in Kaunas and hoped to bring some bread to his mother back in Königsberg
Are you cold and hungry?
Ja, werter Herr!
So you must be looking for work, then?
Ja, werter Herr!
You don’t know Lithuanian yet, do you?
Ja, werter Herr!
I collect bread
And will apply slices as bandages
To heal H-E-R when I return.
a trip back in time in search of Tartar motifs
I’ll be waiting at five
At the old Tartar Gate
You’ll know me by
The sword. Don’t be late.
Then we two shall dine:
I’ll get a large table laid
There’ll be lamb and wine
Violins will play.
After that I’ll take you
Sailing on a skiff
We’ll watch the sunset
And will gently kiss.
based on Roza Litay’s and Algirdas Baltuškevičius’ recollections about naturalist Tadas Ivanauskas
And then Tadas came by
gave me an apple to taste
And tempted me with life
And so now I plan Saturday picnics
To please anacondas and ostriches
Kvass for the reptiles
Tea for the mammals and bats
Look! Here comes an elephant sporting a hat
to Gercas Žakas, a football player from Nemunas street
The bramas of the street are my gates
The sun above the river is my ball
Local cats shoot penalty kicks
Crows croak advice and squall
Then dust and sand rise among bricks
A shadow tells me to stop the game
And raises the right hand at me
Like a red card, laying the blame
in search of Polish motives in Šančiai
Riverbank street number one –
An old fisherman ambles towards the river
A small dog lopes along by his side,
Carries a fishing line for his master and shivers.
Riverbank street number two – children, grinning,
Sunbathed, having grown up in the sun;
The older lad tells the youngster, spinning,
To let go of the cat with no tail and run.
Riverbank street number three – the tall teens
Having pushed the car on the road, all upbeat
Keep replaying a song and with faces mean
Are fiercely protecting the street.
River bank street number twelve –
a two-storied house, which remembers
the years pre-war, the secrets, and the pianos.
A river bird shrieks. Lech falls in love with Susanna.
And then all the banks merge
Into one wide teeming shore.
Shh – the fisherman has got hold of the wind.
Plash – a hook silently falls.
to Fruma, who became Danutė
Am I Birutė?
Am I Jadzytė?
Am I Danutė?
I used to be Fruma
And then became one
In whose direction
The wind blew tears
based on Laima Kedytė Stirbienė’s recollections about the first deportations
Surprised, I asked my mom at dawn
Where my friend Edita had gone
The soldiers are dragging us out like dogs
She’s waiting for us in the north, among bogs
Edita’s dainty dolls are still in my room
They will play with our ghosts and bemoan our doom
Life isn’t growing in the right direction. Through a hole in the coarse fabric I watch: the river Nemunas wipe away its tears with a bridge