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Birutė Grašytė-Black was born in the midsummer of 1992, and grew up in Grašiai village, Utena district.  She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Lithuanian philology from the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences, and with a master's degree in literary anthropology and culture from Vilnius University.  In 2022, her book I Paid with Lilac Leaves won the Lithuanian Writers’ Union’s first book competition.

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reflections on belonging

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Graphic Novels

Algimantas Maldutis, Still-life, 1981, 19 x 16,8 cm. From the MO Museum collection.

Poems from the poetry book “I Paid with Lilac Leaves”

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

 

 

I Paid with Lilac Leaves

 

For the five minutes
I stopped my ears
On the other side of the house
While my father and neighbor
Slaughtered the incarnadine pig by the pen
On the squealing snow.

For the stubble field, for the pointed moon,
Waking from one dream
To another,
For the rusty nail in my heel
That didn’t reach
My equally sharp bone.

For the concrete columns
Holding up this world,
For it all, once upon a time
I paid with lilac leaves.

 

 

Crow

 

The crow in my dream pecks hawthorn berries –
A crow larger than the sky.

His echo flies
Branch by branch over the tops of trees:
A shadow, a skeleton.

He perches
On a lightning rod
At the center of the universe,

This one –
The real one.

An idea occurs to him,
Then he tenderly
Tucks himself away.

 

 

October

 

The river flows slow,
And darkness falls.
Above it, the stars
Of Lupus shine.

Like a fish,
Like a bird’s wing
Caught in Lupus’ maw,
October

Crepitates underfoot –
The heart of a hare.

 

 

First Snow

 

A moose drinks water –
Unmoving – silently, voraciously.
For a second, the night moth
Stops conking
The kitchen lamp.
The animal packs the night away.

When day dawns, so white –
It’s as if you spent all that time
Somewhere in the fields
Until your skull was filled
With snow.

 

 

Inflection

 

Contours and corners remain,
What the fog and snow have left us:

My father gleams in the field,
He went out to show us the Pleiades
And stayed.

The mouse of childhood has chewed through
The pantry’s floral wallpaper. He scrapes
And scratches, inflecting himself within me

To the locative case.

 

 

Fish

 

The fish we caught in childhood
And left in buckets overnight
Gasped out clouds
And crowns of trees.
The wind would wane and vanish.
Then I would secretly watch
How the night sky gleamed
With their stolen scales.

 

 

Childhood

 

With rubber boots
Full of water,

Skis made by my father,
Waxed with funeral candles,

With moth-eaten wool
Socks, unmatched,

With my brother’s outgrown sweater
Mocked at school,

My childhood stands
Posed for a step-mother’s picture,

Frozen in place.

 

 

428

 

“I’m sorry, but the number you have dialed is not in service.
Please check the number and dial again.”

I’m dialing my old, home phone number
With this fear

That I’ll be the one who answers.

 

 

 

 

 

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