Three Poems by Triin Paja
touching the porcelain plates, you became the river upon them.
how hard not to become that which you touch.
you say this city is a raven, how nothing passes the sound
of old paint peeling from the walls
not even a woman walking into a river. the birds we saw
in our childhood became light or water.
love may be a perfume factory or black light theater.
the childhood love is always the river.
you call me a widow of rivers.
I carry their sound in the wirebasket of my ribcage.
I stand, like a discolored photograph held long
in the shirt pocket of a sailor. the sky shifts like a pendulum.
the horses continue to drag the sledge on the wall rug
in my memory. nothing was burned. you lay me down
by the Tiber River.
how often we must remain silent. we must hang
each white shirt to the oak tree and leave them there, leave them there.
kiss the withered plants, bury the porcelain plates.
hangs there without a body for it. to remember the dead
is to go to the cellar where your thoughts
become a window full of snow. how he bent over
the beeswax candles and spoke of the apples an old woman
left in a bucket for the strangers by a fence that creaked
to remember the dead is to stand again in the winter dusk
when we could speak only to the burlap bags
filled with potatoes dug from the parched fields.
the stars rise like smoke from the chimneys,
the hour when I cannot explain the quiet sound of wooden clothespins.
you walked through the heather-fields until you became heather.
the fence, creaking. the face colored in disappearance —
memories, dear ghosts, I am collapsing under you.
VOICES IN WINTER
here is the insect-wing light
flowering over the hawthorn branches in the bucket.
someone putting down a fork. the cactus planted
in a copper watering can, the wash in a lavatory
where a lighbulb has broken. listen
to the dog bark at the cold. listen to my hands.
I am taking out the dead leaves. I am building you a city.
it will be a chandelier or a gypsy song.
do not worry about the graveyard in your chest -
there will be flowers there.
the night against us is a black stallion in snow. do not worry.
we will feed the dog. my hands are candle wicks. we will have light.
Triin Paja is an Estonian, living in a small village in rural Estonia. Her poetry has appeared in The Moth, BOAAT, Otis Nebula, The Cossack Review, Gloom Cupboard, The Missing Slate, and elsewhere.