kurva kurva kurva
he’d shout, driving the whip across her narrow backside

raising her skirts in a rage,
pulling down her sweatpants

I’d follow every one of their movements,
throat clenched – – –

that boney backside, the blazing heavens
are still in my dreams

though it’s ten years of rot, already,
since he rises to the heavens on crooked whips of woven grass–

that’s what
I call childhood


Translated by Medeinė Tribinevičius

Vitalija Pilipauskaitė-Butkienė (b. 1981) is a poet, literary scholar, doula, and mother of three children.
She completed Master’s degree in Lithuanian literature at Vilnius University and is currently a doctoral student there. Her debut book, I Am Breathing, was named one of the 12 most creative books of 2015 by the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore. In the same year she was awarded the Z. Gėlė Prize for best poetic debut.

Her work embodies the perspective of a free 21st century woman, examining ideas of identity, relationships, and societal roles. In addition, the poems put forth insights about the Soviet and post-Soviet space of the late 20th century, as often as expressed through the voice of a child. Her poetry is notable for bringing to the fore themes and topics often considered too intimate, indelicate, or best kept secret; these include breast cancer, the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of children, and the self-destruction of the individual.