Poem of the Week

Since we’ve had such a good time discussing language issues lately, I thought I’d continue the theme with this poem of the week – from Estonia. Did you know Estonia has the highest number of meteorite craters per land area in the world? No? Me either.

Used with Creative Commons from electrofervor

[untitled] by Kristiina Ehen

Sand martins sea-stone black
gulls sea-foam white
you screech over the harbour
sweep over the churches
circle over the city walls
the breaking waves and me
birds city birds
what tales do you tell of Tallinn

You tell of
how the alarm bells were rung
how mothers ran with their children
when everywhere walls were in the way
and the Russian bombers kept coming and coming
from the east
when it was all burning screaming and crumbling
cracking and bursting

Even now I hear the weeping
this stony medieval beauty’s
this age-old city’s
black dresses rustling
I feel the wind
the soothing soft wind of the present
that makes feathers and sand fly

In the original Estonian:

Kaldapääsukesed merekivimustad
röövkajakad rannavahuvalged
kiljute sadama kohal
sööstate üle kirikute
tiirlete kohal linnamüüri
murdlainete ja minu
linnud linnalinnud
mida te pajatate Tallinnast

Räägite ju
kuidas siin hädakelli löödi
kuidas emad lastega jooksid
kui kõikjal olid müürid ees
ja Vene pommilennukid tulid ja tulid
ida poolt peale
kui kõik põles karjus ja varises
pragunes ja lõhkes

Kuulen praegu veel nuttu
selle kivise keskaegse kaunitari
iidvana linna
leinakleitide kahinat
tunnen tuult
vaigistavat pehmet olevikutuult
mis lennutab sulgi ja liiva

This untitled poem, copyright © Kristiina Ehin, 2010, is taken from The Scent of Your Shadow, translated by Ilmar Lehtpere, and published in a bilingual edition by Arc Publications.

Find out more at the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre.

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