Triin Paja (b. 1990) is the author of three Estonian-language poetry collections and a recipient of the Värske Rõhk Poetry Award, the Betti Alver Literary Award, and the Juhan Liiv Prize for Poetry. Her English poetry has received two Pushcart Prizes and her chapbook, Sleeping in a Field (coming out in 2024), won the Wolfson Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her poetry has been translated into English, Czech, Finnish, Russian, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Slovenian, and she is a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union. She has translated into Estonian poems by Ocean Vuong, Jacqueline Winter Thomas, Indrė Valantinaité, Benediktas Januševičius, Dovilė Kuzminskaitė, Kirils Vilhelms Ēcis, Lote Vilma, Donika Kelly, and Fatimah Asghar.


people believed that cranes swallowed heavy stones

before a storm to keep the wind from sweeping them

every which way. grandpa

was even lighter than me by the end.

the wind carried him away.

he left early to buy orange juice

for his hungover daughter.

he spoiled dad.

he peeled pomegranates,

filled bowls

with ruby seeds,

served them to his grandchild.

he carried water, he gave blood, he surrendered.

he lies deep in the raven of my pupil.

I know how exceptional even tar and sweat are,

because he no longer knows.

listen, now,

to the rain falling softly,

murmuring like mossy stones.

someone climbs out of the velvety interior

of the chest of grandpa’s body.

Dad’s Legs

broad daylight, naked beneath the covers,

thunder and my partner’s breathing

in my ears and on my shoulder,

I think of dad’s legs.

my sister and I were stork chicks on his tanned

knees. so says a black-and-white photo.

legs that later languished

and will never leave grandma’s side again.

I’d keep those hairs,

dark and gross like fly legs,

in a silver 19th-century tobacco box,

if I had them. touch is exceptional

when it’s thundering and the window’s open.

each is buried apart

in the family grave. I’d certainly like

if we all held hands underground.

The Dead Love Not the Land

the sky is a dress mended with golden thread

that grandma wears. dad dips down to the sea in

funnels like sleeves, though he knows not to drink.

the steeple in which dad and grandma drank together

is the image of a church tower coated in ash.

dad departed six months

after grandma –

mother took son along.

I run through nettles.

I dig up grandma’s hair.

braiding it I realize the dead

love not the land, but the sky, water’s promise.

Translated by Adam Cullen