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Aidas Marčėnas is a poet, essayist and literary critic (b. 1960). He is the author of 15 collections of poems. Marčėnas stands out from his own generation and from younger poets for the attention he pays to form, favouring traditional rhymes and rhythms, and experimenting with exotic genres like the Japanese tanka. He is also very fond of postmodernist games in his poetry, and in his later collections he often provides commentaries of how his poetry should be understood.
His poems are translated into English, Belorussian, Polish, French, Russian and other languages. A member of Lithuanian Writers’ Union since 1993. He is also a laureate of Poetry Spring festival and has been awarded National Culture and Arts Prize (2005).

reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

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Illustration by Romas Orantas
 

from the poetry collection “Artificial Respiration”

 

Illuminated

The illuminated cross of an airplane.
Short days,

a limpid sky, and you can see it
from the hill draped with maple leaves

by the old city’s old graveyard;
and you are also that child – agape,

pressing your nose to the glass,
gazing at the living map

of unfamiliar places, miles
and miles below you –

still trying to discern some one thing,
like no one else in the airplane cabin.

 

 

In the Timeplace

    We lack a word for the interaction
    and interconnection of space and time.
        – Viktorija Daujotytė

November: waxwings have occupied the rowan tree,
evening smiles for the last time, calmly closing its eyes.

Or August: cumulus clouds inhabit the lakes,
cows moo, strange creatures. Or, after long illness,

you could say, after endless winter, suddenly the effervescence
of May, but let’s not perorate, consciousness, you know well

here, where you are. You are, are, and are. One. One from infinity,
from an infinity of possibilities. An infinity of possibilities not to be.

 

 

To Watch the Snow Fall

To watch the snow fall, to see how
yesterday’s footprints in the snow
are covered in fresh snow, today.

To remember that the limit approaches when
nothing will remain of what is precious to recall,
and nothing of those for whom this means.

To bring back your mother and father, young.
In the falling snow, the darkness. In childhood,
when you would come home

with an ice-caked scarf, a crooked hat,
your gloves who knows where, having
tracked the known world. It’s still snowing,

you see? Listen well as it snows
to what the silence says.

To not be? It sounds so grand
that who could manage it?

 Aidas Marcenas 03Illustration by Romas Orantas

 

Jocasta’s Brooch

    –before the premiere of “The Myth of Oedipus”

1.

As if I accidentaly stumbled upon
Thebes this morning

there, where I lived my teenage years,
when poppy dreams and “The End”
showed us reality more as it really was.

The wind in the courtyard of the Krushchev
tenements, in the chestnuts, just yesterday
bursting into bloom, the wind and the demons:

a lame moira with a pair of little dogs,
shadows of the plague and crows
with amber eyes, a drunk
in a coma.

2.

And that wind again. As if it blew
the dreams of humanity – from the depths,
straight through

an addled consciousness.
Psyche, awake for uncertain time,

in the arms of Eros, the strongest
of the gods of the pantheon,

glitters among the chestnuts.

Here and then.
Then and now.

3.

What is it about, this wind,
what is this theater of wind about –

like an ancient tragedy
in three acts, like the life
which, as if, was not

as the falling curtain gets stuck
for centuries,

stuck in memory.
And is this about this –

in truth, that having seen it
you have to put out your eyes?

 

 

What Flows into Ithaca

    Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
    you’ll have understand by then what these Ithacas mean.
        –Constantine Cavafy, “Ithaka” (tr. Keeley & Sherrard)

This sea beats on cliffs as if thinking,
but its waters are clear.

Suddenly, it settles,
having memorized even you: gazing
at the horizon, making out islands

there, where the world ends,
where there is nothing anymore for mortals.

Before a thousand years.
After a thousand years.
Now.


        –Alexandria, 2016

 

 

Coda

    It’s so quiet at midnight that you can hear how
    a young leaf or blossom charges on its bough.
        –Antanas Baranauskas, The Forest of Anykščiai

A tragic expression on the new
world’s face, the avant-garde
gone deaf,

immediate
outcomes. Zeroes
and ones. And one wants,

like a century before, another,
to debate with the dead
Poles,

bearing witness to cut sacred groves,
oneself not realizing –
why.

In such silence that we hear
how the dust
mocks us.

 

 

 

Translation by Rimas Uzgiris

 

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