Betti Alver (born 23 November, 1906; died 19 June, 1989), pictured above in a photograph probably taken circa 1912
Not a Dream
Not the dream of a disordered brain
or a victim’s soft tender shell –
but a colossally grand hotel
that’s my skeletal frame.
Stairways, lifts and doors leading in,
passageways, mirrors and halls.
I’m an intruder in my own skin,
and it all utterly appals.
The lights go out, the night revives.
Creeping like cats to their capers,
out come the guests with forged papers,
foreign tongues and razor-sharp knives.
Like chalk in my gullet, fear
shrivels up every cry of warning.
If only I could learn before morning
where, oh where, do we all go from here?
—translated from the Estonian (translator unknown)