Anna Halberstadt. From the Vilnius Diary
1. Samuel Bak. Warsaw Excavation.
Fragment of a painting by Samuel Bak, who, as a child, survived the Holocaust in Lithuania.
Anna Halberstadt. From the Vilnius Diary

God, Gotteniu,

I had never been taught the formal language of prayers

I can only talk to you in the voice

of a scared rabbit hiding in the bush

with his stupid little tail sticking out

I can talk to you in the voice of mama raccoon

carrying her striped offspring one by one

by the skin of their necks

away from the two screaming women

who had discovered her nest

in their country house shed.

I can pray to you like a drying out tree

stretching naked branches at night

into the tangerine sky

like the tide lapping against the side

of the wooden pier

in the moonlit sea.

In the yellowed photo ten Jewish women


clutching each other in anguish|

standing with their backs to the pit

ready to be shot

photographed by some unknown executioner

in Ponary

where were you then, God,

you bastard?

I wish I believed that people are good at heart

like the fifteen-year-old Anne Frank.

I am a little Soviet pioneer in a red tie

saluting you.

I do believe, though,

In the synergy of a beehive

complex harmony of behaviors of ants in an anthill

the divine architecture of beaver dams

before a mad hunter shoots the female

and the male begins madly swimming in circles

mourning his mate in the bloody pond.

About the Author:

Anna Halberstadt. Photo
Anna Halberstadt
New York, USA

Anna Halberstadt is a poet and a translator from Russian, Lithuanian and English, who grew up in Lithuania and was trained as a psychologist at Moscow University and in the U.S. Her poetry in English was widely published in English-language journals, and Russian, in Arion, Interpoezia, Children of Ra and many others. Her poetry was translated into Lithuanian, Ukrainian, and Tamil. She published four collections of poetry in English, and Transit and Gloomy Sun (in Russian).

Anna Halberstadt
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Three Questions. A Documentary by Vita Shtivelman
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Poetry Reading in Honor of Brodsky’s 81st Birthday
Length: 1:35:40