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Jurgita Jasponytė was born in 1981 in Zarasai. She began her studies at Vilnius Pedagogical University in 1999 and went on to receive a BA in Lithuanian philology and an MA in literature. She works as a librarian, raising her daughters Ugne and Jūre Jotvile. Her poetry collection Šaltupė (the name of a Zarasai street, meaning “cold river”) won the Lithuanian Writer’s Union First Book Contest. In 2015, she won the Zigmas Gėlė Prize for best poetic debut. Her second poetry collection Vartai Auštriejį (The Sharp Gates of Dawn) was published in 2019. For this book she was awarded Vladas Šlaitas and Paulius Širvys literary prizes. In 2019 Vartai Auštrieji was included into Book of the Year top five list. Her third poetry book Visata atsisėda netinkamoje vietoje (The Universe Settles in the Wrong Place) was published this year.

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reflections on belonging

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Graphic Novels

Asta Rakauskaitė-Julian. Black in Six. 2000, paper, colored woodcut, 61 x 80 cm. From the MO Museum collection.

 

 Poems from the poetry book the universe settles in the wrong place

 

Translated by Rimas Užgiris

 

 

 

That’s It

Where the blood was flowing
There the rose is growing.
– Lithuanian folk song

Death is the failure of breath
no, sorry, not the failure, but the end.

During these days of Russia’s war in Ukraine
I often forget to breathe,
I always catch myself in a sigh,
trying to breathe more deeply –
the feeling of a lack of air:
maybe I follow the events while holding my breath,
maybe, for a little bit, I die.

Blood without oxygen is nothing,
it flows freely out there,
as everything flows out with a final suspiration.

 

*

Games with naval battles –
where you shoot at toy boats
develop reaction times and strategy
                                                and that’s it
or maybe it’s just squares on paper,
but still I ask my daughter
not to tell me anything about these games
because it’s not squares I see anymore
                                                and that’s it.

Death is the end of breath.
Cells die without air.

I don’t remember my first breath in this world,
but giving birth taught me how to breathe.
I don’t know what you learn in death.

 

One

one fewer wolf
one fewer nation
one family
one person
one faith
              in oneself

and now one fewer tree
one species of plant
one language
one thought
one bullet
              more painful

one flow
           of blood
                     and tears
                         heartbeats
                               and knowledge

so that all of us
at the same time
breathe in the same thing
and breathe it out
                        each on one’s own –
because many of us are one

fewer wolf.

 

*

he was an enemy to me for so long
that now I know him all too well
for him not to be a friend.

 

Drizzle

I clutch at the air
                          and drizzle
I won’t make it barefoot
            across the damp yard

the painful cry of a puppy –
I feel constant guilt as a human
because I could do more than I do
because I seem to always fall behind
                        and rain falls
and people trickle away
             while cars hold sway
and there are no more puppies
on Coldriver’s street –
it becomes clear
            what changed this space:
dusk and prickly
drizzle.

 

***

Chase it away and
there will be no dawn,
though there should be.

The murmuration of water is not words.
Water’s silence lies within the word
waterway.

 

***

*
                          *

*

three midges in tenebrous light

 

(Un)Separable

Rain dog –
I exit the sauna and smell it.
Steam rises from my body:

I am an islet I am fallow fields a deer
I am a pitcher of water partly drunk
maybe its more of a jug
cracked with white decorative lines

I am the hand that feels the loom’s beater
I am the toughness of the sound it makes
I am the awn stuck on a sheet
(so you wouldn’t forget me)
                                              a blade
the city’s artery – after rain
I am the flooded street.

 

Through the Gates of Dawn

I.

In the morning sky –
an airplane’s quick shot.

I flow slowly into the city –
it is my river’s mouth.

II.

The name of the city is just the clop
of horses’ hooves
on cobblestones

or a thought constantly on the run
along the narrow train track –
the name now guessed

by the blade of dawn
which repeats it
in its way.

 

Panevėžys Street

Polish tourists in their hotel sing
through an open window

a scratchy old recording – the river’s flow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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