Archive of Issues
Archive of Narrations
Syndic Literary Journal

When We Die

Written by Kristina Ehin

Translated from the Estonian by Ilmar Lehtpere

Narrated by the Poet


  When we die we go to the land of the dead

   not thinking how – we know where to go

   we see behind our own eyes

      and into our hearts’ tributaries


      after long long winter

       the soles of feet are tender

    like the skin on a foal’s eyelids

in spring in spring – elegantly down the stairs

       and then along the cobblestones

       where it hurts a little to walk

               without shoes


             hot hot day

between the jaws of dewy morning and cool evening

   your breath wilts me parches me

       burns my northern cheeks


             birds birds

birds over rivers birds over graves

  birds over camomile and steps of stone

birds over islets and treetops birds over meadows –

                               birds birds

                         and their caaa-a-ll 


Kristiina Ehin is a leading Estonian poet. Her work has been translated into dozens of languages. She has had several books published in English in Ilmar Lehtpere’s translation, including the British Poetry Society Popescu Prize winner The Drums of Silence (Oleander Press) and the British Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation The Scent of Your Shadow (Arc). 1001 Winters (Bitter Oleander Press) was also shortlisted for the Popescu Prize. Her most recent book in English is On the Edge of a Sword (Arc).
Ilmar Lehtpere is an Estonian poet and translator. His most recent translations into English are On the Edge of a Sword  by Kristiina Ehin (Arc, 2018),  and Shortening the Candle’s Wick by Andres Ehin and Ly Seppel (Carcanet, 2018).











Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
History of Syndic
Write Letter / Contact Publisher
© all photos/text

Archive of Issues

Archive of Narrations