by Triin Paja

Desire turns us into ghosts.
— Octavio Paz

like the river-women carrying linen
I also only carry the other’s

desire, wash the cloth of it
against the river rock of my breast


before I learned the world of gestation crates
of women throwing themselves
down wooden stairs

I believed the sea could save us

I shore towards the empty shore
of your call I am
                        the ghost of salt in the sea 


before I learned the world
mother washed her hair in a yellow bowl

saying words no one was
present for to hear

the moon’s shirt tangled to a branch
there was a world I was

aurora nettle silver dead


I walk through the combed hair
of wheat fields

I think of my mouth a rose thicket
he pushes through

in a cemetery Russian women
carry tulips in plastic bags

they are so close
they nearly touch my hands

the sun the yellow bowl where
a girl washes her hair

the years to learn the flowers
of my language has thorns

light smoldering through
my body’s eggshell

Another earth

by Triin Paja

there were no birds, even if the trees
creaked like the birds, even if the dawn
implied the perpetuity of a sensual
sky, as I saw a bird-shadow on a wall
and awoke to an earth that seemed
iridescent, unbeautiful as a seabird
which tarred oil turns from
gull to crow. I buried a small bird
and climbed a tree calcified with lichen.
the wind began to turn my hair grey.
I was not a child. I learned
we are also like the river
for we cannot return.
I loved a bird but it was like seeing
a lover swim in the sea, but you are
at the bottom, you see his belly,
the sun above. then there were
no birds, even as rail tracks
glowed in the dark
with the sheen of ravens
and grass grew as tall as geese.

Triin Paja lives in rural Estonia. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Portland Review, Adroit Journal, Room, and Poetry Daily, among others. She is the author of a poetry collection in Estonian, Nõges (Värske Raamat, 2018), recipient of the Betti Alver Literary Award.