ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 2011 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

Volume 57, No.3 - Fall 2011
Editor of this issue: M. G. Slavenas

Gone with the wind my Veisiejai gone

Diana Šarakauskaitė

From Diana Šarakauskaitė, Medžiai mano tėvai, eilėraščiai. Vilnius: Homo liber, 2009.

…I say: Oh Mother
and I think of you my home
of those who died moved left never returned
how it hurt this ritual
and here I am
the house reviewed door frames moved
hammering sounds rafters restored…
different curtains flags different smells
replaced uprooted mothers fathers
streets are renamed redrawn
family cradles disintegrate like nets
it doesn’t hurt anymore
as if I had never been here before.

mine is only the lake still mine
in its reflection the reflection of the sky
in the sky the reflection of the lake
clouds on the waves my face in the sun
converging melting into the path of the moon
into mother and father into their sky their depth
let me be the roots are too deeply set
in fresh-water springs hidden from sight
under layers of lamb-soft sludge
settled on stone and shells
inextricably entangled with deep-water fish

golden down silver feathers glisten and gleam
in the sun of the moon I return to primal form
there is no name to which I could respond if called
I float from a distance cautiously like a dragonfly
On fragile edges of thought not waking the child
sleeping inside not waking
the little Veisiejai girl on the lilac road
she would cry and cry
and choke on her sobs
if she knew that the town is gone
as if it had never been.

* * *

and if I am not and my sight is not
I will read the landscape by touch
and sense your lives your formless graves
your sagging rumpled houses lopsided alleys
my town the town where Judita V. composed
... Veisiejai, we can tour you like Venice…
my house among the four winds
a place pierced by seven swords
the ground leveled flat by wagons and whips
flogged trampled upon blown away
abandoned to fires and purified

such is my town its beauty its history of horror
trees quiet ghosts once shouldering the skies
lie prostrate on the ground
people turn in a circle always all of us interlocked
we who were born in those times and survived
in this place at the edge of paradise
which throbs with the rhythm of hearts buried alive
in the ground on which I once drew squares
and hop-scotched unaware
of bodies buried underneath
with cut-out stars and severed body parts
and aborted lives

or the well into which we children leaned
giddily yelling our names
and in return heard moans of the dead
who were dumped there and left to drown

then came the sixties regional holidays
the heavy drinking retching Russian curses
all of it in my youthful
romantically colored drawings
even the handles on which
my slobbering moribund neighbors
hung themselves
plunged in the daily swill of cheap wine
not able to bear the past
when the sod was raised by
groans underground

my little town my cradle rocked by winds
I have never seen a landscape
more peaceful than yours
the linden trees the people no other place
where my soul resounds in a thousand voices
as I pass women widows waiting in terminals
dried bread crumbling in their totes
breaking it eating it pigeons surround them
all of them sharing it

widows sainted mothers forced to walk
to the square where mutilated bodies
of their sons lay on display
pigeons soldiers of peace obese with tiny heads
and bulging bellies squatting demanding to be fed
at funerals and weddings bloodlines merge
on earth and in the ground
and who killed whom will never be known

* * *

I wish I could ask oh Lord
if now they reside in your house
dressed in the robes of their finest years
or did they come to you just as they were
in the square their shame
covered only by Magdalene’s hair
St. Magdalene my Saint
from the altar in the Veisiejai church
she washed the fratricidal hands with her tears

who of you daughters and sons
were heroes or doves?

Translated by M. Gražina Slavenas