land of glass

into the pocket of her well-washed robe
she’d shove seeds, dandelion fluff, a feather,
a fist, pressed stone-hard
nails writing into the tissue of her palm –
firmly, drops of blood settling into the life line’s arch,
dust, all sorts of nothings,

choking on tears when she read, tossed fire-wood into the stove,
when, having taken out her good shoes she prepared to go into town,
pulling rapidly disintegrating nylons over her firm calves
(catching a nail was all it took),
she’d look at the swirls of stubble underneath
and remembered searing hogs,
garlic infused ham,

she’d tug on her skirt –
sewn while she was still unwed–
the one that rubbed, day after day:
in the village streets, at work, on the way to the bus
already gleaming somewhat – on the knees and buttock,
around the hips,

swallowing several sips of tea she’d fix dinner in her mind,
unused to speaking she’d exchange a few words with her neighbour,
her colleagues, with the television antenna seller on the corner,

in the evenings she’d wrap herself in her robe –
smiling, spent, in love and happy
(if such a thing could be) –
tying memories into knots
she’d curl up in front of the television, caressing the remnants of the day in her pocket,
believing in peace,

later she’d have to endure
the stretching, touching, fingering, pulling,
she’d have to endure her own squealing,
her scraped intestines,
her abraded eyes –
only then: goodnight

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.