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Review: The Scent of Your Shadow, by Kristiina Ehin

... the next collection is from an Estonian poet, Kristiina Ehin, translated by Ilmar Lehtpere, who is a poet in his own right. We have the benefit of the Estonian on the left-hand side and the English on the right. I love this, even though I know no Estonian, because the shape of the original can be enjoyed while reading the translation. The book is introduced by Sujata Bhatt. Few of the poems have titles, but the book is divided into sections which do help the reader navigate. Some of the poems are long but hold the reader's attention easily. Ehin's imagery is organic and often very beautiful. For example in the third section, she describes autumn like this:

A whole pile of gold
has settled
under the maple at the end of the street
The maple itself has been left bare
left empty and open as the sky
All the clouds have fled in fear from the wind
sweeping over the open fields

Ehin's poems are deeply personal, but not in a way that excludes the reader: quite the opposite, they draw the reader in, so that Ehin's life feels like our own, a fascinating glimpse into a different, simpler life lived close to nature. Reading these poems is like a holiday of the best kind: eye-opening, relaxing and different. Ehin's work is rooted in Estonian folk tradition, and music permeates both the forms and the language. I particularly relished her poems about parenthood, for their beauty and tenderness.