Volume 50, No.2 - Summer 2004
Editor of this issue: M. G. Slavėnas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 2004 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


Birutė Pukelevičiūtė
Authorized translation by Gražina Slavėnas

[Ed: Errata in line breaks and punctuation corrected from the printed version]


Slender, my mother, like a bird-cherry tree.
Heavy with me, she ripens her sorrow. Wildflowers float in wide-rimmed bowls. Yellow shutters are half-shut:
My mother waits for the festive day.

I arrive during Consecration. The roads are empty. The organ is still.
During the night my cradle fills up with sharp edged August stars
and my mother begins to cry. Mournfully. For the first time.
Because I, like a chunk of rock, break asunder and come rolling down. Without her.
My hands slipping from her grip.
Autumn orchards ignite into scarlet fires. Wild drakes, with wings like shimmering brass, are migrating South.
I am saying good-bye.
The path through the underbrush closes in on me. The sedges are sharpened knives.
Hollow trunks gape at me with their toothless jaws. I shake with every limb.
But I do not turn back.



Do not call me, father, from behind blue fog.
Go on alone.

Strange is this forest.
No echoes resound, no shadows fall, deafened birds do not hear each others' songs.------
By the roadside, like a beggar, kneels a crippled rock.

The drought sets in. Conifer cones are cracking.
Fir needles flake.
The sand turns sharp and red.
My father can't find a fresh-water stream.
His veins are strings stretched too tight.

Then I will come:
true sister, his only beloved.
I shall never water flowering bushes at dawn. Golden jugs split into ringing shards. I shall weave no sheets for my dowry chest. Heddles are twisted, willow bobbins snapped.
My blue sleigh turned over when the horses startled.
Heavy bolts fasten my dowry chest.
No one shall carry it across the threshold.



The barn door is opened wide. A dark still unknown embrace.
Do not enter:
There on fresh-mowed hay sleeps a golden-haired noon. He is angry.
Sunrays slash through the cracks like crossing swords.
Come with me to the brook of my childhood. Over the stream pliant elms extend their arms and weave an arcade.
Giant ferns prepare for their magic bloom in its shade.

In the distance bark battledores. Obedient step-daughters beat their wash on their washing boards since earliest dawn.
The water is cold, the towels rough, their shirts of sack-cloth.
It is better not to meet the high noon. But he has awakened and comes striding down the hill.

I had never loved before.
Now little blue bells ring it out across the fields------

It is night.
The sand on the shore turns cool. The fishermen and their boats are asleep. The white willow baskets are filled with fish, with silvery prey.
A thin light gleams in the dark. And the sharp smell of ropes, tar and honey cake.



All of them are here:
Men and women. Large strong women. Their cheeks are rough like rain-washed autumn apples.
At dusk they water their livestock in peaceful pastures. They wade into a lukewarm lake and raise from its bottom heavy nets. Steaming water streams from their arms.
In the forest shout bursting buds. In the ground swells the coming crop.---
And they fold their hands and pray to a distant God.
With the rise of the moon, they spread infinite shadows like silent spruces.
When they step across the threshold, their copper bracelets touch each other and ring.
Black kettles bubble. Mossy logs sweat sap. Every corner fills up with aged forest fairy tales and with the coolness of night.

Their hair is like dense linden honey. Their feet are broad, their breath smells of sweet-flag.

Holy, Holy, Almighty - every Conception is without blemish.



And those other women. Timid swallows.
After the first September frost they wrap themselves into mournful shawls.
White silken fringes touch the ground.
Softly they descend to the shore of a pond and read poems.
The pond is a sad, large tear.
Their hands are helpless. Slim.
But when the edge of the stars turns toward them, they tighten their waists with a sash and dance. And wear out their pointed slippers in a single night.
At dawn, white-haired dogs recline on the steps. Dark moths drop into flames like leaves. This is when they wrap themselves again into their shawls.

Then comes advent time.
Churches toll from afar. In their copper holders candles weep. Stab the thorny dragon with spears and do not tempt us again.
Inscrutable is the face of God. Like a mask.



I came like water, and like wind I go.
Omar Khayyam

Young forest witches, my young mothers, suckled me with the sweet milk of their breasts. Through my fingers slid stars.
And I grew like a young green shoot - without the curse.
Moist and warm is the breath of black alder trees.
From the bottom of a turbid rusty swamp rise murmuring
bubbles and rupture in rage.
The afternoon silence is destroyed.

You mold reddish clay and pull hunchbacked rocks. You build churches. But their narrow spires are sharp like resentful needles. Saws screech. White fir is wounded by nails.
Grim confessionals line the walls. Kneeling-benches are splintered and hard.
One life will not be enough to atone:
We all suck on an evil sweetness and ripen.

We all will fall.



My beloved is still asleep.
A new day is here. Colorful thrushes whistle outside.
I have named you my Disquiet. I cannot think of anothername.

Our hearts are two rocks sunk to the bottom of a lake.
We hunger to see each other destroyed. Two young wolves lurking for their first prey.

You will honor the woman and you will honor her sign - the golden sickle of the moon on her forehead. I am blessed like fertile soil on the morning of sowing.
I come and I go, but in my body sleep your unknown sons like galaxies in the night's gigantic palm.
I will present my offering to the sun and extend proud and enduring generations.




You are young. You are aflame. Your sleeves are pushed back.
Your will be done.
Be my sorrow and be my wine. Be my damnation.
A full red moon - you burn. And we: slaves, mothers, hetaerae.
Blessed be your desire.

The tombstones have cracked in half. Earth is a crazed young woman who succumbs under her sweet, heavy load.
We are only vineyards. Filled with compliance.
And resentment.



I am an angry blossom feeding toward destruction.
My veins are dark, my blood made of wine and slime.
I am a swamp weed sucking turbid waters.
Enjoy me!

I will smash every mirror. Mirrors clone me a hundred times: my greedy throat, my lusterless eyes.
I am embittered with myself and I fear the noon.
Your embrace must be like two curved sabers.
So I won't be saved.



Mornings I open the two warm palms of the shutters and soak in the flood of the morning sun. Mornings I am transparent.
Later I wander through narrow alleys in futile search for impressive words. My songs are pleasing. But nights I crouch on the small wooden steps and cry.
This is how I am when alone.

Only with you will I walk into the enormous night. I'll pronounce the magic word and unlock unfilled fields like pages in a book.
Black furrows will open wide. The grain in the cup of my hands alights and pierces the greedy soil.
Look at my hands.
Yesterday I spilled a strand of blue beads: I scattered the prayers of childhood -
Bolt the door. He is offering worthless gifts. He likes lowered heads and feeble knees. And here I come - to sow, to officiate, to bless.
All by myself.

Pray if you must.