The Vice Mayor Invites All Former Residents Home
The City is celebrating its 420th birthday with speeches, dancing,
good Lithuanian food and alus (beer). The Vice Mayor has asked
that all former residents be invited home on this special day.    

Consider the spaces between trees.
This is how you get to the forest, where you dug down
until the ground got warm, fashioned a door
out of branches, leaves for disguise.  You have to start
while the dirt’s still soft, make no sound—
only the thug-thug of the stolen shovel, its iron haft
biting the heel of your hand, lie down in dirt,
eat the brown slop of your Mother, Lithuanian soil.
If you go deep, you can survive the winter
to emerge later, moonstruck, under a shower
of night-blooming stars.

Meanwhile, there were the lakes.
Litvaks, even displaced, paint these lakes,
longing for Homeland.  Blue lakes, serene, still.
All that gleaming water, looking for the world
as if there were nothing to be dredged up
in spite of these lifetimes of fear, words—
my flat ocean of tears.  You ask 

how long till I cease this weeping.  I tell you
Never is not long enough.

                                         Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld

Originally published in qarrtsiluni (
with the title "Response to an Invitation," available at:

Copyright © 2001 M S Rosenfeld