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Algimantas Mackus


In Dying


Now I draw one timeless hour aside
black Maria In coalmines they dig up coal
to bury their hair Maria Death walks there
stalking the men Maria Ordering them to rest
in a pit deathpicks hack clean Maria
Where mail from home is brought in
at midnight Maria
With the sunset in flames
a conflagration the neighbours cry out for
With orders when to shut up or speak up Maria
Mother left on her own
Father not back yet from work
The maid off long ago to get married
With the war at an end Maria
On a gray postcard from Lomzh
she sends her goodnight Maria

In coalmines they dig up coal They bury
their hair Maria A thinning roster of men
heads for the bar on Sunday Midnight they read
mail from home Maria
She stares about in the cool evening rain
for a face to soak through
The sun sets in flames
Father not back after work
To sing the Nemunas flowing
all night long Maria Sewing the buttons on
a worn coat for the long haul Maria
Listening for the same dull steps
With the door to the stairs pried open
Waiting for a gray postcard
with goodnight from Vilnius Maria

Lashing plantation whips break
in through the skin Maria In coalmines they dig up coal
to bury their hair Maria Death stands there
plowing down drinks shading eyes from the sun
to pick out the women Maria
A gray postcard from Lomzh
her goodnight Maria
Says when to clench teeth or else
gives the order to scream Maria
Poland not lost no not yet on a gray postcard Maria
Lashing whips you write
sting like snakes Maria

With shoulders and chest laid
in hardpacked plantation clay
you lie stripped body naked back
to your African race Maria

Now I draw one timeless hour aside
black Maria A thinning cluster of men
heads for the bar each Sunday Death drinks there
To sing the Nemunas flowing A gray postcard from Lomzh
Singing goodnight Maria

Submitted: Thursday, April 10, 2014

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Translated by Vyt Bakaitis

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