The Coastal Meadows (Southwest Estonia)

The coastal meadows blaze golden,
break blue water, blue sky.
A wooden boat nudges
through green and purple marsh reeds.

I am home. I have never lived here.
How could this place settle on me
like linen upon an infant
sung and rocked to sleep.

Who slipped this place in me?
Was it my choosing, or has it crept unknown?
When did it come to quicken my breath
and then supply the resting sigh?

I am a refugee’s child — daughter of a true
native daughter of southwestern Estonia —
who grew with her mother’s
hollow in her heart.

I yearn for the resting sigh she was ripped from,
for the sway of reed plumes on her seaward creek,
remembered sounds and gilded sight —
such tricks of time and space.

Here is an audio clip of my reading The Coastal Meadows (Southwest Estonia) as it appeared within the Bluestem Literary Magazine site

The Coastal Meadows (Southwest Estonia) ©2016 by Kaja Weeks

The Coastal Meadows (Southwest Estonia) was first published by Bluestem Literary Magazine. In it I write about the mysterious effect of “knowing” a place in which one steps foot for the first time — in this instance, the reedy, flowering coastal meadows of Pärnu, my mother’s hometown by the sea. The place settles on me, “like linen upon an infant sung and rocked to sleep,” and I wonder, “Who slipped this place in me? Was it my choosing, or has it crept unknown?” These, I ponder, are markings of being “a refugee’s child — daughter of a true daughter of southwestern Estonia — who grew with her mother’s hollow in her heart.”

Below is my translation of Coastal Meadows (Southwest Estonia) into Estonian. I am grateful to Estonian-born philologist, journalist and poet Sirje Kiin for her kind fine-tuning.


Rannaniidud helgivad kuldselt,
lahutavad sinise vee sinisest taevast.
Paadi pea tungib
läbi rohekaslilla pilliroo.

Olen kodus. Ei iial siin elanud.
Kuidas on see paik saanud minu omaks,
nagu linane katte pandud mu peale,
kui imikul kellele hällis lauldakse?

Kes pani selle paiga salamahti minusse?
Kas valisin selle ise või hiilis ta mulle teadmatult?
Millal pani ta mu kiiresti hingama
ja kinkis siis rahustava ohke?

Olen pagulase tütar,
ustava Pärnumaa tütre-tütar,
laps kes kasvas
oma ema südamevaluga.

Igatsen seda rahustavat ohet,
mere äärse pilliroo sulgede sahinat,
meeles peetud helisid, kuldseid sahvatusi ,
neid aja ja ruumi vigureid.

2 thoughts on “The Coastal Meadows (Southwest Estonia)”

  1. Your poem about “knowing” a place is beautiful. It’s strange how some places seem to have some kind of bond with us. 🙂

    I was born in middle-Estonia, in small town Rakvere which was my “home” until I went to the university (quotation marks because it didn’t feel like home). At that time my mother also moved. She sold her apartment and rented rooms in little borough (alev) near to Pärnu. 🙂 Even if Estonia is small country and everything is close, I still think it was brave of her to leave her old life behind and start a new one in the new place alone. And now she is happier than ever. She feels like she is in the right place. My mom relatives are derived from South-West Estonia, so I guess she just returned to the home. 🙂

    I also found my home, in the beautiful island Ruhnu. Maybe you’ve heard about it? If you got a chance then I recommend to visit it, I believe you’ll like there. 🙂 Because of work I’m currently living in Tallinn, but I feel like some invisible ropes continuously pulling me towards the Ruhnu. Now I knew what homesickness means.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hanna, You must be very adventurous! Ruhno looks absolutely beautiful and it is way out there “by itself!” I could see why you would love it. I’ve heard and read a bit about it, but after your comments I looked at a film on ERR archives and it’s stunning. For an artist like you it must be especially appealing with all the colors in nature. Hopefully I’ll get to it someday. I know you’ll get back “from the city” to it!

    Liked by 1 person

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