NEW TURKISH POETRY

BEING
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Bejan Matur

Translated by Ruth Christie and Selçuk Berilgen

From the collection Ibrahim'in Beni Terketmesi (Abraham Abandoned Me, Metis, 2007)


Time of roses
And autumn
Long ago dust mingled with bones
And the universe ceased.
Being
Beginning in the home and never-ending.
New words should have summoned you
The pattern of dust should have shown what was to come
And you remaining still far off.




IT IS DARKNESS THAT OPENS THE WAY

Translated by Ruth Christie and Selçuk Berilgen

From the collection Ibrahim'in Beni Terketmesi (Abraham Abandoned Me, Metis, 2007)


Lean over a well
Lean over and hear Gabriel’s wings
And his lack of wings.
See there
How words exist
How a human being flows into another.
Perhaps it’s darkness that opens the way.
Between you and me
Perhaps it’s just a look.
Where you go
In your search
For a ring inscribed with Allah
Perhaps before Allah it’s love that you seek
Your search is for love.




PEACEFUL MORNING

Translated by Ruth Christie and Selçuk Berilgen

From the collection Ibrahim'in Beni Terketmesi (Abraham Abandoned Me, Metis, 2007)


A time before time
A morning of peace
Of roses
And fountains.
A welcoming
Of the creatures
Of the latecomer
Rescued from the hand of sleep
In the dappled dawn.
So arms
Moved away from a statue’s body
And found a human.
Desired.
What belonged
Far more than words
Was love.




HOME

Translated by Ruth Christie and Selçuk Berilgen

From the collection Ibrahim'in Beni Terketmesi (Abraham Abandoned Me, Metis, 2007)


A house
Our home where we talk
A house of stone
And the steppe.
Of death and the tyrant father
Of the father becoming a father.
A home which is just for us
Like rocks whose being is buried deep in earth.
One night a fire will be lit
And a woman, her skirt undulating in the sighing wind,
Will learn a gaze is her whole life
A hand is her being.
Now the morning of leaving you
Will be as though never lived.
Your parting from days and nights
Your arriving at that house.
Remember
You were the one who built the walls of our home
With mud and dust.
When your hands were your own
Questions began and never ended
‘A moment’, you asked
‘What’s a moment?’
Then ‘Does it hurt?’

Mountains can rise between you and me
When I said so you didn’t believe,
But look how they grow.
The steppe ends and mountains begin
Sorrow begins.
It’s the night
When we wept together for our past
When a sister departed
And stones were cast
To ensure we’d meet again.
What a sister taken from us
Has opened up in our hearts
Will certainly return and never end.
An event unresolved
Lasting through all time.
When it makes us cry
We know
We’re already grown up.
Before you can even look
It’s acquired a name.
Now we must be strong
What’s expected of us is courage.
When you speak of a moment
Before all moments
What must be repeated is the becoming.

A father becoming a tyrant
Your sleeping in blood
Your waking.
That night you were left in blood.
For what reason?
To arrive at this day
This very day.
Your looking
Like death
In one moment
Of those countless moments in time
And then came fear.
Fear of leaving
Fear of being abandoned.
Don’t leave me you said
Hold me close I wanted to say
Hold me.




WHEN THE WHEAT IS CUT

Translated by Ruth Christie and Selçuk Berilgen

From the collection Ibrahim'in Beni Terketmesi (Abraham Abandoned Me, Metis, 2007)


Of your leaving a home at night
Of caressing its pillar
Of your speaking
That night I was turning around you.
The hand that caresses the wheat remembers.
Circling you
A name uttered from a mouth.
Names carry memory.
Childhood is not just about lying side by side
That’s not how it is.
y burden belongs to me
Like the shower of rain now falling
On Istanbul, rain falling on that moment
And your sleeping there.
In a sleep like the world you’re tied to.
You covered me up and departed
To become prey for wolves in the snow
And the night.

A deep blue light
Rain now over the straits.
A poet speaks of hands
Of the poetry your hands knew
Your hand that understood
A pillar
A dark house.
Circling with you is the cosmos
Whispers of being.
When the wheat is cut
What will appear from now on
Is not loneliness
But the daily bread that falls to our lot.




THE NORTH GATE

Translated by Ruth Christie and Selçuk Berilgen

From the collection Ibrahim'in Beni Terketmesi (Abraham Abandoned Me, Metis, 2007)


Draw the curtains again
This flight of mine
Is not a flight
Nor finally an arrival.
Who’s waiting there?
A stone courtyard
A fountain
History a river flowing away.
Only time which hasn’t yet passed.
You spoke of the old ones
Who stopped the sun in a mosque courtyard
Of the men who gathered all the old beliefs
With little stones in their hands.
Will it happen again?
What will it open in the heart?
Time that draws lines on fingers
I wish I’d asked the question.
For answers grow in your sleep.
I wish I’d come unexpected
And opened your curtains.
In our country
A look
A wave of the hand
Means the world.
In our country are no terraces of paradise
No rewards.
And always what lived and fretted away
At a little girl’s mind in the dark
Was knowing about existence.
She says
‘I asked one night when the moon came up,
Why do human beings exist?
You’ve spoken of water and Adam.’
When I asked which she believed
‘In Adam of course’ she said.
‘Even if he comes from water
He’s there from the beginning.
It grows dark and existence fills the house.
I draw the curtains
She curls up close
All one big eye.
A while ago a man
Buried his father in his country
And lying in the same coffin
He has nightmares.
But when the old ones approach
Goodness begins again.
What will begin are lines that grow on their hands.
‘What a blood-red country,’ I say
‘Are we near the sea?’
‘I’m not sure’ says the little girl.
‘Can you smell it?’
Then she speaks of a smell
That belongs only to Adam and human beings.
‘It was waiting on his table. You saw it’ she says.
I make my way through the desert far from the sea.
The little girl sleeps
She dreams of existence and Adam.
Darkness is far from her.
What things your curtains hide.
As I cross the desert the courtyard waits
And prepares many things.
And through which gate will you enter the city
From the gate looking south?
But you would say north.
How will you pass through the city’s north gate
Without your heart being broken and bruised
How will you enter?




ABRAHAM'S LAKE

Translated by Ruth Christie and Selçuk Berilgen

From the collection Ibrahim'in Beni Terketmesi (Abraham Abandoned Me, Metis, 2007)


I.
The city that hears the saint’s words
Is haloed in such darkness,
No enemy tribes can enter.
The city is blind.
A ring of darkness
And Abraham’s lake.
The moon goddess’s sceptre
Shows other directions.
So on the hilltops
Altars to Satan and
Filling with the blood of sacrifice,
Abraham’s lake
Abraham’s lake.

II.

Abraham’s lake
Abraham’s lake
When a woman
Folds her hands on her breast
What is she asking?
Is there something she wants?
It’s time, not man that writes in cuneiform.
My pilgrimage is over
I’ve made the journey
Where the first signs were sun and moon
And knowledge came man progressed
From the truth of snakes.




REMEMBERING

Translated by Ruth Christie and Selçuk Berilgen

From the collection Ibrahim'in Beni Terketmesi (Abraham Abandoned Me, Metis, 2007)


At night
The man
On horseback
Following the river
Thinks of all he left behind
Now what he can’t remember
Is his own face on the coins.




ARID AMAZEMENT

Translated by Ruth Christie and Selçuk Berilgen

From the collection Ibrahim'in Beni Terketmesi (Abraham Abandoned Me, Metis, 2007)


He counted the prophets’ years
Before their names,
His amazement would be less
If he had enough fingers
Even if not.
‘Old’ he said with gloomy joy,
Of the arrival of man
Who invented signs
And of the river that rose at the world’s end.
Bones turning to stone
The sky always the same.
Trees loneliness
Leaves whisper of the cosmos.
Sun lifts their branches
As though to reach God
But the trees don’t remember their roots.
Now your amazement will begin
Your arid
Sunless amazement.
But it seems you’re too late
For humanity
Shadows
And dust
You’re too late.




WOMEN
Translated by Suat Karantay
With their blue tattoos
And bruises from endless mournings
They stand still looking at the fire
They all shiver when the wind blows
Their breasts bend to the earth

Carrying burning wood in their hands
Old as black rusty cauldrons
Women continue their wandering
When the fire bursts in a rage
Voices multiply
The fire burns incessantly there
Extinguishing it is such a hassle

Women with shrunken breasts
Are thinking of the hardness of the wood
They'll hold in their uncommonly slender hands
And keep silent
It is hard to guess their age when they are silent
They smell of the earth when they cry out

Unable to recollect where to direct their glances
They let their eyes rest upon the earth
As clouds are not permanent in the sky
They relinquish themselves to the earth
Cordially
And occasionally exude a fragrance


THE EAST WITH ITS ACRID WIND
Translated by Ruth Christie
I came
Silent and sad
I abandoned myself to the earth
My heart was saying Wait
Hurry and find a temple
But I was too late
The shadow of the walls remained
But they themselves had gone

Sometimes I say the east
The east with its acrid wind
Is surely enough for me to understand
For comfort
I packed in my bag
Quatrains and maps
I gathered pebbles
I let my hair down in sorrow

In the midst of that strange crowd
Talking of you
I looked into the deep sleep of mountain lakes
I looked at all the roads in sight
I had no power
To ask about their aching wounds

There
The birds of god are known
Women know the birds of god
And they ask him
God what have we done to you
Did we break your birds' wings
What harm have we done you

God silent
Silent as my mother
Looked
And said to those who were left
Why do you linger here

Ah dear flesh
Why do you linger here
Follow its scent and go
Go
After that acrid wind


Every Woman Knows Her Own Tree
Translated by Suat Karantay
When I came to you
I would open my wings
Woven with black stones
In that desolate city
I would perch on the boughs of a tree
And I would cry with pain

Every woman knows her own tree

That night I flew
Over the city which frightens even the darkness, I passed.
A soul without a shadow is alone. I howled.


TIME AND ILLUSION
Translated by Suat Karantay
Flying into the field of clouds
With the taste of sun and water
There is no night out there
Night does not fall in the distance

A silver cage around my neck
Like an unfaithful concubine
I lay down and curled up
In the middle of the moon
It is a grandpa
I am a goddess
For days we flew in the twilight

My neck was weak
My heart was empty
I rubbed my face against the trees
Painfully I let my eyes touch the clouds
The roads I traveled over
And that nightless sky
I flew through
Whispered
As weary as God
Sitting in the field of clouds:

Time and illusion
Time and illusion





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