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Alfonsas Andriuškevičius is a well-known art historian and one of the most interesting teachers at the Vilnius Academy of Arts, an original poet and a subtle essayist, an excellent translator of English and American poetry, and a laureate of the National Culture and Arts Prize. In poetry, he is an apt and precise minimalist who combines an elegiac quality with gentle irony. Andriuškevičius’ essays are intellectual, intertextual, and elegant. In them, the author often writes about the history of art and culture and about unexpected intersections.
 “Alfonsas Andriuškevičius’ essays and poetry have an ambivalent impact: his works both pierce and are decoded by intellect. Such uniqueness makes it a pleasure to read the prose and poetry by this author…” (Giedra Radvilavičiūtė).

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***
Look at those clouds, look – their heaviness, weighing on the horizon.
Well, all that marble! Huh, and basalt! Well, and granite too!
It’s not heavenly, you say? But heroic for all that, yes, my child, heroic.
And no chagrin d’amour for you here, no, no cante jondo either.
 
 
***

Summer now, and the sweet milk of June is done.
We’ll unhook ourselves, child, from the tiring breasts.
We’ll dally without tears. You see, between death
and undeath there’s this gap of the present tense,
where you sigh yourself with no one else.

 

***

     For Laimantas Jonušys

The sky was already burning. The clouds in flames.
The wings of the angel were now turning black.
We watched it all calmly, from out of our black
stretch of the world; there was no laughter, no jokes,
no tears. But somehow it was quite windy, yes,
it was quite windy there, as on the steppes.

 
 ***

 If Homer’s Achaeans were to fill the autumn forest,
even they would fail to defeat the falling leaves.

 

 ***

 I saw Mary standing among some trees. She
didn’t seem to know what to do, so she just
effused this feeble, yellow light and stared;
suddenly, she began to put it out, and cried.
I didn’t know what to say to her to make it right.

 

***

      For Adolfas Poška

Last night, you know, I was making out with Aphrodite.
And, you know, her skin, it was glowing marble white.
Her breath too, you know, of course, came hot and heavy.
But her hands! Where, oh where could her white hands be?
Someone is holding them, I bet, holding them fast
Between the present tense, sure thing, and the time past.

 

***

      For Sigitas Parulskis

I stood and gazed from a mountain, a great big mountain.
The whitening wasn’t bones, I tell you, not whitening bones.
What was going white, was artless fair...
And quite seriously white, not red, not blue, nor yellow.
It went white as if forged, or at least, fastened.
Although sometimes, you know, it looked like bones.

 

***

 How grey, how grey it is inside the soul!
It’s greyer than the grey insides of a grey rock.
It’s greyer than the grey mouse’s grey hide.
But, but: those ruby, those Silvia Plath’s, those poppies...
Their silks rustle, their silks wrinkle!...

 

***

 

I didn’t invite this autumn here, I didn’t ask it to come.
Though by the end of August, September’s start, I was in the doldrums.
No, that didn’t mean I wanted the roots and leaves to do their thing any differently.
The roots of words dug up by Brodsky and Radauskas were quite enough for me.
But it came anyway: this bronzed, brazen pre-winter type,
bringing along two or three – real red and yellow – archetypes.
I caught the eye of one by chance (do you think I knew if it was woman or man?).
Oh, I was just like a hero caught in flagrante delicto by the very son of man.

 

***

The women speak of autumn, but which
of the autumns do they have in their heads:
Radauskas’ world dying pretty and weak,
or the one with the wind that punishes my hair...

 

***

It happened in September’s end, at dusk, definitely September’s end:
no one can testify now, for no one was standing anywhere nearby:
no children, no patients; a power simply came down from the sky
and rose again; even the grass the cows chewed on wasn’t more dry
than usual: that grass isn’t always green anyway, at September’s end.

 

***

     For Donaldas Kajokas

It’s raining in the universe, and no one asks why.
It rains straight, it rains slanted, thickening here, there it thins,
it pricks the light, it pricks the dark, then the light again, now turbid, now crystalline,
it’s childlike, adult, then childlike again... But no one asks why.
It’s raining in the universe, and will rain, and there’s no one to know why.

 

 

Translated by Rimas Užgiris

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