Wheat Fields

at dusk the wheat fields turn into lakes of light.
children rise from our bodies

to become old women in rose pergolas. we eat the raw wheat
until I awake            into the blue desert of forgetting.

my dreams are white mourning clothes.
rise from my body          to become houses without people.

in this house, fishnets lay on the table. hardened bread
dipped into liquid,            dusk melting into a bowl of peaches,

night the shape of a plague doctor, dawn
colored in a mythology of foxes—

nothing rising from my body,            this basin of lakes and weeds.  

we walk in the oil painting of autumn, in which
our names become salt or stars, in which

the bones of wheat become our hands.


when they found your body floating like a luminous fish, 
like an anonymous dream, in a port in Libya,

I knew no metaphor can make the way you died poetic.
the world is made of water but it does not mean your name
must grow hollow in the Mediterranean Sea.

if you had survived, I would picture you
kneeling beneath a silver willow, the leaves heavy with moonlight.

you are learning the Portuguese concept of
 saudade, which, to you, 
means a longing for a homeland to which one has no hope

of returning, a longing
for a place that no longer exists.

the silver willow is growing into a field of Syrian jasmines,
which is the shape of your dreams buried in the sea,

which is the image of the Aleppo River, where your mother
lets you drink water from her cupped hands, where bodies

keep floating by and you learn how grief grows mute
in a mythology of fear, how a family album is written

in a calligraphy of blood.

when a child calls out to her mother in the Keleti train station,
his voice breaks into a poppy field burning in Afghanistan,

and the mother’s voice, responding, grows into sheer white curtains,
a bowl of cold milk, and her good hands

tell him he will not become a metaphor, he will sleep
in Pompeii, in Troy, in Persepolis, in every lost city that is not the sea.

to reduce human beings into carton boxes 
labeled as passport, race, sex, religion,

is what a butcher does, reaching his hand
into an animal’s carcass and pulling out its heart.  

Triin Paja is an Estonian, living in a small village in rural Estonia. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Tinderbox, BOAAT, Fractal, Gloom Cupboard, and others.

© Ira Joel Haber

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