Triin Paja

There are nothing but gifts on this poor, poor Earth.
                                                                 —Czeslaw Milosz

I memorize your grandmother’s name.
I ask you to describe her hands
and you repeat
                          soft, soft, soft.
I kiss the fleur de sel on your eyes
and hear the cuervo of her heart
that you must carry.
grandmother, the young woman
folding cabbage rolls.
what I mean is, we are wearing
the funeral veil of memory
and the city of the dead is inside us.
writing by your window, I learn
the sound of a train whistle
can fragment
                       a landscape.
where you were born
donkeys carry baskets of roses,
jacarandas mate with the sky,
and your grandmother’s mouth
turns into a dahlia—
I walk out. snow falls on my braid.
I ask you to describe her hands
and you repeat
                          soft, soft, soft.
I look to our empty hands
and see nothing but gifts.

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Triin Paja lives in rural Estonia. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Portland Review, Adroit, and Entropy, among others. She is the author of a poetry collection in Estonian, Nõges (Värske Raamat, 2018).




Room is Canada’s oldest feminist literary journal, and has published fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, art, interviews, and book reviews for forty years. Published quarterly by the West Coast Feminist Literary Magazine Society, also known as the Growing Room Collective, Room showcases writing and art by women (cisgender and transgender), transgender men, Two-Spirit and nonbinary people. We believe in publishing emerging writers alongside established authors, and because of this, approximately 90% of the work we publish comes from unsolicited submissions or contest entries.

Works that originally appeared in Room have been anthologized in The Journey Prize Anthology, Best Canadian Poetry, Best Canadian Stories, and Best Canadian Essays, and have been nominated for National Magazine Awards.

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