LITUANUS
LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
 
Volume 23, No.4 - Winter 1977
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright 1977 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
Lituanus
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VYTAUTAS VIRKAU, 1974

THREE POEMS FROM "FOOTSTEPS IN THE FOREST"
(1973)

by Astrid Ivask

*

Soul's geography, 
a continent of silence, 
fawn-colored and green -
silence and sound, 
water and earth 
hand in hand, 
overarched 
by meridians of rain.

for Ivar

In the beginning was a rowanberry. 
And from that, like a grey-headed sorcerer, 
like clever wizard Vainamoinen, 
I grew a branch, 
and then a trunk and roots. 
And I fastened the roots into a stony shore. 
Then it seemed it would be good if waves 
dashed against the shore
and so came water. 
But the water called for fish. T
hen I threw into the water's center 
ne more red rowanberry
the sun; 
it walked between the fish 
and through the tree tops. 
All this seems good to me 
till that day, when again 
I will call back to non-being 
the waters, stones, sun, 
the branches and their leaves, 
     till in the palm 
     remains but one

          tiny
          red
          rowanberry

*

At times this light comes to me again
and asks: who are you and why?
And I answer, sometimes in childhood
on my godmother's farm in the evening
after strawberries and cream we watched
shadow plays, which always ended
in one and the same place -
before the Great Wolf put
the question to Kasper: who are you
and why?
More next time, we were told,
but another evening it started from the beginning
and stopped just there,
where the Great Wolf had almost
grabbed Kasper in his teeth, but not quite.
Candle blown out, we drowsed
in the low board room above the stables,
with the scent of hay, window down to the floor
and the moon throwing shadows on the ceiling.

Translated from the Latvian by
Inara Cedrins