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An essay by Laima Sruoginis


"St. Elizabeth's Hospital" is translated by Jonas Zdanys.

"Journey into Spring," "Aegean Wine," and "Campo dei Fiori" are translated by Kerry Shawn Keys.

"St. Elizabeth's Hospital" contains parts of a poetry fusion made by Craig Czury from the works of current patients at St. E's Hospital.

Kornelijus Platelis Kornelijus Platelis

Translated by Jonas Zdanys Jonas Zdanys

St. Elizabeth's Hospital

for Craig Czury

Our dynasty came because of a great sensibility.
Ezra Pound, Canto 85

Across the Anacostia River, among the trees,
St. Elizabeth slices a round cake With a long shining knife and politely serves it
To the students of the poetry t-group waiting in line.
Their arms are bound along their bodies to the elbow,
Their eyes are as round as a cake sun,
They stretch oddly as they eat: it is the destiny
Of poetry to repair consciousnesses and worlds. Suddenly
A telephone rings, calling for St. Elizabeth,
She hands over the knife and asks me to continue slicing.
As the long blade travels from one hand to the other
The sun bounces off and flashes in their eyes
Chopping up their roundness like the knife
The cake. The world splinters
Into myriad fragments and for a moment
Congeals before crumbling. I

Our dynasty came
     because of a great sensibility.
After all the pavilions of our palaces
     I now look through John Howard's window
In the shadow of leafless trees
     into the new age across the river.
Our minds were somewhere else
     when the gates opened.
Our dynasty rested upon a strict hierarchy
     contemplating beauty.
The walls dissolved years ago
     as I listened to forbidden places.
Our dynasty established order in poetry
     and gushed through the edges of form.
Inner voice? Each of us got many
     inner voices. Which would you like to hear?
Our dynasty was hospitalised
     because of its great faith.
The new world injected us with tranquilizers
     and our consciousnesses turned to wood.
St. Elizabeth took us into her care
     and love dissolved our will.
The founders of the world of equal values
      took to healing us with our own poetry.
The inexhaustible milk in St. Elizabeth's pitcher
     undermined the hierarchies' foundations.

stick the blade into the cake, splintered
Reality holds together, an odd hope that already shined
Through the cracks seals over. The poetry
T-group students meekly lower their eyes.
The balsam of words oozes through the cell walls
Glue of things and consciousnesses with bandaged arms
The metal taste in my mouth is changed by the sweetness of cake,
Returning us to harmonies, opening up
Memory's roads to nowhere.

Translated by Shawn Kerry KeysKerry Shawn Keys

Journey into Spring

Oranges, lemons, thumping
the umber soil,
almond blossoms, cypresses, far off
the blue bay of Corinth, and stones
and rocks and language sprouting everywhere
like luxuriant grass: don't overstep
your limits, don´t step over the threshold
too high for the foot of a mortal.
The wave comes. Corinth, then Eleusis.
Koré calmly returns to the valleys flooded
in sunlight, oranges knocking at her door.
Withdrawing, Gnosis abandons the intricate ports of Psyche.
Don't step over.

Aegean Wine

Cobblestones, asphalt paths, afterwards
along beach pebbles, and then down
the first pier to the sea.
It was growing dark, drizzling, memories
began to unravel from the darkness within.
Maybe already the time to turn back.

With inspired chaos, we fended off the hated order,
our heads swimming from wine and the sober truth.
Now we look around with wonder, listen, touch shapes
which, it seems, are tendered for our thoughts, our speech.
They were young,
dizzy from passion and victory,
forgetting to change sail.
Here is the Baltic Sea, people living close about,
speaking different languages, sharing customs.
At the symposiums, Mediterranean wine,
wine from the Aegean. He jumps from the cliff
into the water. And we must begin
our sober everyday routine.

Campo dei Fiori

          A Bruno


Early afternoon. September.
I looked from the window onto Campo dei Fiori —
the heated exchanges at the market dying down, flowers tired
of smiling, blemishes appearing under the tender skin of fruits.
The warm wind carried flakes of plastic like ashes
into the middle of the square where the bronze man in hood
and cloak seemed himself risen from the earth.
It was Giordano Bruno. His eyes darkened into copper
by the flames of the fire that devoured him
in this place exactly four hundred years ago
in the name of true knowledge.

Which, as shown by the observed data, is carried
by memory to be reborn through the matrix of our soul
and therein shyly shown to God's reflection.
And, comprehension gushes forth destroying the walls of reason
like a flaming river end to end.
Then the movement stops and the soul clenches
like an impregnated womb, and . . .We thank the Lord
we are not so blind, do not affirm and judge,
and know — the fire in our hearts is hotter—
than all the flames of this world. The silent fields of flowers
ripple beneath our feet, pistil waiting for pollen.
Their awareness is slight, but fragrant and durable.
It is carried by bees and wind. Shriveled blackberries.
The market's drooping flowers. Alluring sighs
of death in the misleading ways of knowledge.