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I am Justina Žvirblytė, a 27-year-old poet and scientist-to-be. I grew up in a small village called Šilai, located in Panevėžys District, surrounded by trees, gardens, and birds. After high school graduation, I moved to Vilnius to study biophysics and, later, molecular biology. I had the opportunity to spend some time working in a lab in the US, the NASA Ames Research Center. Currently, I am a PhD student in biochemistry at the Institute of Biotechnology of the Life Sciences Center at Vilnius University. I am fascinated by the mechanistic nature of life, the vastness of space, and the everyday details of a simple life.

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

From the author's personal archive

Poems from the poetry book „Microsphere“

Translated by Markas Aurelijus Piesinas

 

 

 

***

 

when taking the bus

i must remind the driver to drop me off

each time he asks me

what i’m doing halfway up the road

 

the same as you, mr. driver

in that bus shaped

like a stale loaf of bread

i will observe how yeast fills the days

with pockets of dense air

how the thick husk of the weekend

shrivels and recedes

 

one spore

will cover me in penicillium

that soft little beast of oblivion

that gentle fact of life

 

 

***

 

that baby cries

day and night

 

they still remember

the place that they came from

where the bare womb of the universe opens

and thought becomes flesh

 

they still remember their past

life as a grasshopper

the length of a hand

greener than grass

 

they remember the cat

that ate them in the garden

 

the one they’ll grow up in

running and bruising their legs

 

 

***

 

i’m crying in the restroom

after chopping twenty crabs’ heads off

yesterday i said

the murderer’s horror is to kill a human being

and feel nothing change inside

today i say

come try the crabs they came in fresh

i’ve just chopped their heads off with my own hands

putting a stop to twenty

pinceresque stories of the world

yesterday we were talking i said

we all feel above average

there is no average just as there is no above

 

i’m crying in the restroom because suddenly

doing the dishes became so horribly difficult

i can’t get ahold of the pots and pans

with my huge pincers

 

Justina Zvirblyte Microsphere 03From the author's personal archive

 

advice for botanists

 

birds will sing

if nobody removes

the cochlea during the sensitive period

it’s good that experiments like that aren’t done anymore

and birds can be poets

 

trees have an internet of fungi

they use it to transmit messages to other trees

several kilometers away

 

when i was little i insisted that

it’s possible to step into the same river twice

because if the river is called šventoji[1]

that’s the one i’ll step in each time

later i understood

you can only meet people once

 

here’s some advice for botanists and florists

don’t add fruits to bouquets

they produce ethylene during the ripening process

the flowers will wilt

 

 

reflux

 

blood

circulating

through acid

lungs full

with saccular acid

consciousness floating

in cerebral acid

the stomach

or what’s left of it anyway

is the acid of acids

the primary cause

 

the medical medium said

that’s alkaline debt

use a celery ointment and you’ll be okay

 

the astrologist said my mars

is moving backwards we must first avoid

an apocalypse and wait for a better

placement of planets for treating the reflux

 

the homeopath said to dilute

 

the electropuncture specialist said

my gastrobioenergetical field

is distorted i should spend more

time near the microwave

 

the ayurvedic shmachnaba told me to

change into clean clothes and drink

tea made of sand it’ll plug

all of my holes

 

the exorcist said i’m being haunted but

not yet possessed so i shouldn’t

do anything

 

the personal transformation coach

told me to smile more in the mirror

he promised to build me a ten-step

alkalinity program

 

the supporter of traditional family values cried

it’s the government eating me not the acid

sadly he offered no solution

 

genovaitė from pabradė thinks

that acid doesn’t exist not even as a concept

she said back in her day everyone

drank from one cup ate from one bowl

they were all one and no acid even existed

 

your regular standard

8-years-with-honors

dead-inside doctor said

you’re not a very good person

you don’t really love yourself

your solution is poison

 

acid rises engulfing me

a void opens and out flies

trochilidae acidum[2]

 

it’s pretty

at least

 

 

***

 

i wish i was allergic

to gluten or cats

i’d keep asking everyone

is there any gluten or cats in that

and everyone would say wow

she’s allergic to gluten and cats

wow so interesting

and then i’d tell them how

i can’t see the family cat

or eat white bread

anymore

and this would be a huge sacrifice on my part

whenever someone would offer

me a fresh butter

croissant i’d tell them

sorry i can’t

 

but i’m not allergic to anything

my body is a perfect

recycling machine

my body is an unstoppable

bulldozer pushing through air

splitting the atmosphere’s

molecules

 

there’s a huge milling wheel

in my body

 

it grinds time

 

 

***

 

astronaut Chris Hadfield has said

that when you venture into airless space

and look in the opposite direction from earth

the darkness you see is so black

you want to poke it

 

when we were sailing down the underground river

in the state of New York

and our guide turned off the light

i became a bodiless speck

it felt like i had no voice

it felt like i’ve always been there

 

i have a dark pocket

i try to avoid that place in my mind

where the Earth is a little blue marble

the size of a pea and we are

never there

 

 

***

dedicated to Cassie Juran

 

let’s leave it like that

while the gray sand of the moon

still crumbles at our feet

the next stop is mars

the next stop is my childhood

home

 

let’s leave a long dash

here connecting the two

different versions of me

and i

 

i’d leave just like that she says

i’d be the first one to fly there

because there’s a great ocean

in which i’m floating

she says i’d be the first one to die

because i really don’t have a choice

 

 

 

1. A river in eastern Lithuania. Its name means “the sacred river” (translator’s note).

2. Lat. the acid hummingbird.

 

 

 

 

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