KR Slade: My Dream of When the Witch is Found


P O E T R Y

Editor’s note:  Defending History is proud to launch its new poetry section with Ken Slade’s My Dream of When the Witch is Found (© KR Slade 2010-2014). KR Slade is an author/journalist, educator, and English-language text editor in Vilnius, Lithuania. He repatriated to his family’s native Lithuania in 2004. Graphics, from the public domain, are added, intending to illustrate the message, and do not reflect on such original artist’s context or intentions.


  • My   Dream   of

  • When   the   Witch   is   Found

  • by KR Slade

  • I was out in the village,
  • far from any town;
  • visiting some new-found family;
  • figuring cousins, from uncles and aunts.

  • an old farm
  • To the children, speaking English;
  • they delighted in the sound.
  • I listened to the olders,
  • explaining me Lithuanian.
  • Ah, the beauty of the countryside,
  • far away from my still-new Vilnius;
  • in the village, ‘away from it all’;
  • all of us Lithuanian:  ‘pure’ and ‘ethnic’.
  • Sampling the goodies, the delicacies:
  • homemade, unknown in any city,
  • found only on the farms.
  • Sipping home-made ‘beverage’,
  • in front of the very earthen-stove
  • where it had been cooked and distilled.
  • When suddenly, the door was thrown open,
  • the Father appeared:  He white-as-a-ghost.
  • He slammed the door shut,
  • braced himself against;
  • as if to defend entry by a bear.
  • He announced, he shouted,
  • “There’s a witch in the barn !!!”
  • an old-barn
  • Everyone, ‘cept me, repeated,
  • “There’s a witch in the barn !?!?”
  • “Yes, I saw her come up from the floor,
  • from the place underneath,
  • where we keep the food.
  • She floated up, looked right at me;
  • and showed me she was so nasty !”
  • Lithuanian witch
  • “She must be a Jew.
  • Not many, any more;
  • but, still, there can always be.
  • She looked like a Jew;
  • I remember hearing how they look.
  • Or, maybe a Polish;
  • there’s still many of them.
  • Or, perhaps a Russian;
  • some have not yet left.
  • Likely a Soviet, too;
  • still could be around.
  • Could be a Ukrainian,
  • or a Belorussian;
  • I remember seeing some of them,
  • maybe one or two, that looked like that.
  • Probably not a Prussian,
  • they’re extinct by now.
  • Then again, you never can tell.
  • A witch is a witch is a witch.
  • Still, I think it’s probably a Jew.”
  • Everyone else asked, “What shall we do ?”
  • Lithuanian witches
  • The Father said to his eldest daughter,
  • “Sprinkle some salt on every window ledge.”
  • And, he said to his eldest son,
  • “Sprinkle some salt below the door;
  • and, in front of the chimney, too.”
  • “Salt stops witches from entering.”
  • And, to his wife he said,
  • “Light the candle in front of His holy picture,
  • and, in front of Her old-icon, too.
  • I’ll put the round rock on the eating table,
  • and hang above the bent oak-twig.
  • You never can tell, which will be best;
  • best to have all, you never can know.”
  • Now, since we live in modern times,
  • there was even more to do.
  • All mobile phones were gathered,
  • everyone assigned a task.
  • Call the family:  all the family,
  • all the family everywhere, no-matter where.
  • Call all the neighbours, too.
  • When the Old Man called his member-of-parliament,
  • I thought that I might be back in Canada.
  • However, no laughing matter here;
  • he also called his European MP.
  • searching witches
  • I helped myself to some more brew,
  • gathered two of the youngest kids,
  • and began a story from a picture book.
  • Even the nasty dog, who likes no one,
  • crawled carefully from its corner,
  • came to us, and sat at my feet.
  • He looked up at us; he now fearing all.
  • The modern gadgets having been used,
  • we then consolidated to the older ways.
  • Time to sing some songs:  the old songs.
  • Yes, there were songs, from long-time past;
  • that had meanings to these same problems,
  • as well as some good hidden-meanings.
  • Witches do not like the old songs;
  • everyone knows that fact.
  • We all fell asleep, eventually.
  • The rising sun made the first-one-awake
  • arouse us all to our continuing vigil.
  • I got ready to take the bus back to Vilnius.
  • Before I could leave,
  • the crowds began to arrive.
  • Relatives from near and far;
  • all the neighbours, too.
  • Even the member-of-parliament.
  • After much discussion, and
  • better theatre than found in Vilnius,
  • the decision had been taken.
  • ‘Must burn-down the barn !’
  • ‘That’s where the witch lives . . . ’
  • No matter that’s also where the food was stored.
  • Everyone would contribute more food; and
  • already plans were making for the new barn.
  • As I waited at the road, for the bus to come,
  • I could see the blaze first smoke, then burst.
  • And, the dance around the coming ruin:
  • so the witch would not escape.
  • Barn_burning
  • As I paid my ticket price to the driver,
  • he said, “Found a witch there, yes ?
  • They found one yesterday, just up the road.
  • Those Jews are still everywhere.”
  • All Rights Reserved: 2010                   kenmunications <a t> gmail.com

 

Biographical Note

Ken-Russell Slade, B.S., M.Ed., M.R.E., J.D., was born in Providence, Rhode Island (USA), and was educated in Boston, Massachusetts (USA).  His paternal grandparents (and their families) were Lithuanian (from the Trakai — Kaunas region, notably Guronys, in Zasliai); “Slade” is a shortened and anglicized version of the family name:  “Sladkevičius”.  In January 2004, Ken arrived in Lithuania, from Quebec (city; Canada) where he had lived for 13 years.

More recently, he has retired as an attorney of trial law, in the courts of various US states and many USA federal jurisdictions, including practice as a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.  He is now engaged full-time in his life-long primary interest:  writing — usually about Lithuania — primarily about “social reality”; often text-editing (revising) English-language writings (original-language and translations); and, private teaching of English. Occasionally, he continues a life-long secondary interest: acting [i.e., stage, television, cinema; and voice recordings (e.g., narrations, voice-overs, radio, commercials)].

LinkedIn public profile: http://lt.linkedin.com/pub/ken-russell-slade/b/425/716  

Contact:  kenmunications <a t> gmail.com


Published in Defending History, 17 December 2014. URL: http://defendinghistory.com/?p=70118. Home page.

Comments are closed.