from Crystal

Judita Vaičiūnaitė

Old Town (I)

The green between cracked sidewalk stones—
the barely sprouted bentgrass, the hoary plantain—
and on the roofs, on banisters of balconies,
wandering seeds are taking root—
the stinging stamen of thistle,
the swaying purple willowherb,
the blind heddle, the green . . .
O the green rays of life
in a wasteland of stone!
The blue stars of widow flower and chicory
flicker through the cracks of brick walls
in secluded courtyards and garages—
red buds of geraniums light
the somber window of a dilapidated house—
in drought, in heat, through thunderstorm,
the lion's jaws roar between windowsills;
the wing of a plaster cupid flutters;
grass spurts from out of the stairs;
the street is a wilderness—
the broken echo of poetry,
the savage, intoxicating victory of life . . . 
The bleak heat of garbage dumps,
the neglect of forgotten dead-end streets,
old fireplaces shattered
by wormwood, burdock and nettles.


Again the marble counter is covered
               with blood and sunlight.
Again it is slaughtering-day in the old town store.
               Again the butcher smiles,
having wiped the blood off his hands.
               Again Handel plays on the radio.
Again the branching dog rose blooms
               above the black-haired customer. 

Blue Earth

To dig each day in the blue earth—
               to mine amber
while the sea moans through dunes . . . 
               Once again, you find in your dreams
an ingot of resinous gold
               containing a primitive plant phantasm.
You dig every night in the somber ruins of Crete and Troy
               searching for
the old sun, the fragment of a ray,
               what time hasn't wiped away—
encased in fog, pictures of the past
               where the amber lacquer
of Alexandria shines
               on ancient Roman instruments—
every day, every night, preserving
               this sacred treasure—
to dig into blue earth,
               into darkness, between clods,
to find that shard of happiness, that one drop,
               that clearest piece of amber
which your ancestors placed in the grave
               at dawn, engraving with flint
the head of a moose
               so that you would meet no ill fate,
so that your endless horizons
               would be free of clouds—
this is your sea, your sky,
               your blue earth.

translated from the Lithuanian by Rimas Uzgiris