Shade by Behçet Necatigil

street shadow

Shade

The stretching shade of mid-afternoon sun

Goes, stays in front of old houses

If memories have begun then evening is near

Clouds hasten above your head.

.

This flashback reminds you

Of fiery deserts you’ve crossed

You were exhausted, walking without shade

No drop of water, nor date palm tree.

.

The stretching shade of mid-afternoon sun

comes from the heat of midday you escaped

all the cool, again is

Summer, sounds of joy in street alleys.

.

It’s short, the shade of mid-afternoon sun

It will go soon, melt in the collapsing dark

Summer evenings in simple neighbourhoods

There were people sitting, you know, before their doors.

.

Safe in your elongating shadow

You don’t think of yesterday or tomorrow

We come to this world but once

I’m glad you heard!

.

Savour the essence of life, at the end

In whichever cool of congested streets

As your shadow draws back tomorrow

So you’ll be just like those before the doors..

.

Poet: B.Necatigil, from ‘Eski Toprak’

Translator: C.Stockford

Translated at the Cunda Interntional Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature 2015

Tierra del Fuego by Lâle Müldür

tierra del fuego

Between sea shells, among seaweed.

Those dark objects of the underwater world.

Is your image.

In the Siamese cats I see in my dreams.

ON THE WALLS OF ODARA.

In the cracks in ODARA walls.

In the place where distinctive claw marks you left

on me begin and end.  YOUR FACE IS THERE.

.

That hut where we slept to the song

of the ‘Poinciana’ tree and sound of waves.

On those stretching sands where our shadows

mixed together.  Those diamond points that light disintegrates forever.

POINTS OF ANNIHILATION.  Your eyes.  Violet purple

or cyclamen you said.

Sing ‘Canta Mais’ one more time…

.

A GREY PUMA had hidden behind a tree.

You used to hide your heart like a black animal.

Poisonous as an anaconda and lonely

as a solitarius, you were.  The moment, one day

when I saw me in the mirror and not another

‘everything will end’ you said.

.

I WAS BESIDE A CLOUDY STRETCH OF WATER

as you set off for Estrada do Sol.

I could hear your voice despite all that distance.

Then, then, I lost your voice, the shapes your face would take.

Mine reminding me of things trifling, trivial.

For example, that day I glimpsed you from behind.

A sentence you left unfinished.  ‘The river the Pampero

passengers were forced to cross…’

.

Then, why, whenever I have to remember you

do foolish things come to my mind?

My telling you of long, long jaguars,

armadillos, mangoes, grapes from India.

How stunned I was, later, to learn that

FISH sleep with eyes open.

 

Your thinking: ‘How easy it is to influence this girl

with silly, senseless things’. Or maybe,

my thinking you thought that.

My thinking you thought that is once again

my thinking’s projection.

Thoughts of my thoughts… memories of my memories…

.

Those days I always wanted to go to Tierra del Fuego.  In the pickup

Gato Barbieri, Carlos Jobim, Baden Powell were constantly on ‘Play’.

Antonio, Yo le Canto a la Luna, Falando de Amor, Saudades de Bahia…

The Girl from Ipanema, Bolivia… For days, without leaving my room

I would think of the tropics.

Tropicus… Mar del Tropicus…

They thought I thought of the Tropics – they misunderstood.

Or was this a reaction to sleepy, sterile cultures.

Longing for a primitive sound.

The search, once more, for the mystery.

Maybe it was an escape.  A far, far escape.

If only they knew all the things I want to escape.

.

‘WE’LL NEVER COMPREHEND THE MAYA’

Something really is happening here.  A mystical thing.

As sublime and strange as the underwater world.

Watching the rain from the window on a grey day.

Lucid dragonflies slowly pull away, bringing me

to you in topaz temples.

You smile just like a sun god.

Do you know how many years I’m on my own,

in confusion.

You see, I just couldn’t loosen my grip.

I walked by your side, yours alone

on a topaz day by the waterside.

At night you would pull a cover over me.

We wouldn’t speak for considerable time.

I’d lose myself in your eyes.

This state of not speaking was a perceptible thing.

Like the silence of a river running

through sea and darkness.

.

Do you know, something’s happening here.  A strange thing.

Like annihilation in cloudy water

White butterflies are flying in my eyes

and they’re bringing me to myself slowly,

in rooms of white…

.

My forgetting was a different you. I was dying Tropico.

Dying with the white romance of your forgetting.

I have nothing left to say anymore.

But then neither did I want to forget.

Because there are wounds that stay beautiful, too.

There are lemon scented, rainy women…

Women you’ll never forget… lemon scented…

despite it all… there are women that stay as rain…

*

I’m fine now.  How are you?

.

Poet:  Lâle Müldür, 1984

Translated by: C.Stockford, 2016 (first draft)

Photo: Tierra del Fuego National Park, grayline.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt of Night Butterfly by Haydar Karataş

dersim massacre

We came across two women gathering firewood near the riverbed. One was a few years younger than the other. The women told us that they had spotted us sitting up on the hill. The soles of the women’s feet were so covered in callouses that they looked like bunches of broom shrubs. In between the callouses were cracks big enough to put your finger between. They had become so hardened to destitution that they had come to a state where they were genuinely surprised to meet someone with a handful of wheat upon them who was actually wearing full clothing.

All the way, as we walked to the entrance of the village, the women told my mother of all they had been through and how they had survived. The older one had lost every member of her family, apart from her sister’s youngest son. And this little boy had only just died, when the glüng weed illness got hold of him. As for the other woman, four of her six children had died and the other two lay at home, waiting to die. The woman’s husband and oldest son had both escaped in different directions when the soldiers had come to the village. Then the husband and older son had taken the family’s goat and headed off towards Balıkan Mountain. The wife herself, and her children had headed to the little den they had already prepared for themselves in the woods. They had saved their own lives, but had not heard again from either husband or son. They heard that they were among those killed at Ali Boğaz and then heard another story that they were imprisoned somewhere near Bingöl...

The two women took us to the house in which they were staying. To identify this place as a house would need a thousand witnesses. It was a smaller and darker little grave than the one we’d called a house back at Perhan’s. They had covered over the hearth end of this demolished house with brushwood and scrub and had taken refuge underneath it. Wooden planks with burned edges that had lined the wall where the fireplace was, stood with their other ends touching the floor and in one corner, the burned roof formed a kind of first floor. There were a lot of children in the house and all of them had pale fluid running from their noses, just like my Auntie’s daughter. They were all jostling for spaces close to the fire. The children were so thin that nothing but their huge, bug-like eyes were visible when the light leapt and flared out of the fire. Other women who had heard us coming now arrived and all began talking at the same time.

Among them was a woman called Haskar who had no clothes on at all. As the women were talking I couldn’t take my eyes off Haskar, no matter how I tried. This strange woman’s face was changing colour with the flames flickering in the hearth and she stood there hitting herself, hissing like scalding water in the darkness. She showed me her breasts that were covered in blood from her scratching and wanted me to suckle from them. When Haskar did this, it made me nestle in even closer to my mother. At one point, as she held out her hand towards me my mother said, ‘Hey now, how is it you’ve found my child in amongst all of these children?’

When Haskar saw that my mother wanted to hide me for protection further between her squatted legs she hissed at her. Another woman said, ‘Haskar, that’s not your daughter. It’s Hıdır Efendi’s daughter, don’t you remember? Sahan Ağa‘s brother Hıdır.’

Haskar stopped for a moment, as if she had remembered something. She nodded her head in a ‘yes’.

‘Are you Sahan’s girl?’, she asked me.

My mother replied, ‘She’s my girl, Haskar. Sahan had no children.’

Another woman spoke, ‘Haskar, this is Fecire Hatun, Hıdır Efendi’s wife. We went to Hıdır Efendi’s funeral, do you remember?’

Haskar began to scream as though the death had only just happened. As she wept her fingers tore at her skin and she cried out, ‘Who didn’t know Hıdır Efendi? My brother Gagım’s son Göyr was by his side. Why didn’t you tell me? Why do you always tell me when it’s all over? If there is a power on Sıncık Mountain let them come and exterminate you all. Why didn’t you tell me Hıdır Efendi had died? What happened to Göyr? My brother Gagım‘s son Göyr? Oh, may God blind me. I only went the other day, went off to the forest to call for him. There was no answer. ‘Come!’, I shouted, ‘my one and only brother, the soldiers have gone’. That’s what I said, and he didn’t reply.’

Haskar got up from her darkened corner and came closer to the fire. Even though the hairs between her legs were clearly visible she didn’t seem to care at all. She scratched at her head with both hands at once as if it itched, and kept on doing so, swearing to herself.

Every now and then she would turn to my mother and say, ‘So then you’re from Pakire, you’re Turabi’s wife.’

‘Haskar, Haskar’, the women would say, ‘You’ve got it mixed up again, this is Hıdır Efendi’s wife Fecire Hatun. Don’t you recognise her?’

Haskar scratched her head as if remembering something.

‘How could I not remember, Göke? Who hasn’t heard of Hıdır Efendi? They were together, he and my brother Gagım’s son Göyr. My brother Gagım‘s son was one of a kind in this here Dersim. I wish he would come, if only he’d come, my gazelle and bring him with him.’

When Haskar fell quiet the other women began talking again, all at once, and even began to argue with one another too.

‘Oh mother of mine! They died on the Laçinan Plain. Thirty five families, the whole of Seyit Rıza‘s family was there.’

Another woman spoke up to disagree with the former,

‘Mother, listen, the people of Malmensan saw with their own eyes those people having convoy chains slapped on their necks. Ali Kadir was the only one of them who got way, and that was at Haçeli. The others were tied up, two together and bayonetted right through.’

No-one seemed to know where their own relatives had been killed. As for Haskar, as the other women spoke, she had her eyes on my mother. She was looking my mother up and down from head to toe. She’d sidle up to her and stroke our little sheep before turning to my mother and saying, ‘So, you’re from Pakire and you’re Turabi’s wife aren’t you?’

The other women heard,

‘Haskar, only a minute earlier you remembered Hıdır Efendi. You said your brother Gagım’s son was a comrade of his.’

‘And who wouldn’t know Hıdır?’, went on Haskar, ‘They slipped a rope around the neck of that Jandarma from Gur, almost under our roof. And when the Jandarma began to cry, Hıdır would give him some water.’

‘Don’t confuse her, poor thing has lost her mind,’ said my mother.

We boiled up the partridge eggs we’d brought from the mountain, chopped them up with the fennel and ate them. We spent that night there with our little sheep. By morning we saw even more clearly the degree of poverty we were amongst.

There was desperation all around, which brought with it a need to hold on even tighter to life. Having said that there seemed to be no visible effort anywhere in this village of an attempt to stay alive. Half of the children had died, and the rest appeared to be simply waiting for death. They had given away a female child in exchange for a tin drum of barley seeds. However, a herd of wild boar had broken into the field on which they’d scattered the barley seed and eaten it. Desperation was crushing them in its fist and when the soldiers had come and burned the village the desperation, naturally, increased. This helpless ‘waiting for the inevitable’ had frightened my mother so much that we left the village the very next day.

.

Excerpt from current project, translation of Haydar Karataş’s novel ‘Night Butterfly’.

(c) Haydar Karataş, İletişim Publishing, İstanbul.

Translated by: Caroline Stockford, 2016

Photo: Archive picture relating to Dersim operation, 1939

The waiting – Enis Batur (first draft)

rain walk

And who did you say hell was?

I too saw the birds of grief

one this way, one that, from the end of the flute.

Yes, I know, everything is my dream-whim.

What’s-it-called, how are they voiced, these words

Well, it’s like this : Just as you catch hold…

 

I’d gone out for a rain walk that day,

I don’t forget the details of it, who it was

I can’t remember of course, what possible importance could they have

their names, and yes, I can’t quite bring the face to mind either

before my eyes, it was September, one of the

Septembers, who was it you were saying was hell?

.

Poet: Enis Batur

Translated by: C.Stockford (first draft July 2016)

(Comments welcome, Turkish below)

Bekleyiş

Cehennem kimdir demiştiniz?

Keder kuşlarını ben de gördüm

Flütün ucundan bir oraya bir buraya

Evet, biliyorum, herşey benim düşgücüm

Şeyi, nasıl söylenebilir, bu kelimeler

Böyledir işte:Tam tutacakken…

Yağmur yürüyüşüne çıkmıştık o gün,

Unutmam ben ayrıntıları, kimdi

Hatırlayamıyorum tabii, ne önemi olabilir

İsimlerin, evet yüzünü de getiremiyorum

Gözümün önüne, eylüldü, eylüllerden

Biri, cehennem kimdir diyordunuz?

Enis Batur

 

 

A Red Indian Summer – Lale Müldür

way up north

I

the shore’s one side is water

the other cinnamon

lost knowledge

craves to return

the sun pales on its ice island

I never saw you in my dreams

look, around us everything is crying

my face hangs out of the window

I should have said, ‘no! no!’

I wiped out your name and wrote a poem

desperate for distance

when you hold me close

I will let myself go

fearing the dark’s eyes, fearing

and for each passing summer the Indians

will put a horse chestnut to one side

and all this week it will rain

and all this week I won’t think of you

but I’ll think of the trace of our star in the sky

and later a woman will leave me

in the heart of melancholy

as rain flows from huts, gutters, forests

a woman wrapped in the rain

Soledad

will bring me a deep, dark leaf

in a glacial sunrise

that jaguarial, riverof jaguars

Uranus’ moons are weeping

on the dark shore seen in dreams

II

that which passed between us

like infinte water

for a summer

a summer

defined by knives

of Indians and tigers

there is a lonely moment

as long as a vein

that statues ressurected

between you and revenge

no, don’t remember anything

apart from an endless summer

and yet how many times more

will they bleed, our eyes

like red seaweeds

who knows how many times more

in other endless summers

the refractive wave

was the rupture place

this is why I say

it was just an endless summer

remember nothing else

.

Poet: Lale Müldür

Translated by: C. Stockford, March 2016

Don’t ever copy me again, angel – küçük İskender

iskenderpic

I sincerely thank the rain

tonight it only poured on my corpse.

I was afraid something would happen to me

if I thought about you for a few seconds;

afraid that while thinking I’d catch cold.

I sat and ate black oranges

sat and read bad books.

Inside me murder like a boredom,

inside me panic like a parasite,

inside me curiosity like a calamity.

I’ve fallen far from my senses, now I’m so dejected

now I’ve fallen far from my childhood too.

I was afraid of falling even further

if, for a few seconds, I thought of you;

if, say the moon was to bend

if, say blood convulsed

the soul vault off somewhere in dying,

I was afraid I’d die even more than death

if I thought of you, for a few seconds;

if I am sound, unsound, a syllable if

I made a word of you, I was scared

if I used you in the wrong sentence

stuttered as I said your name, mispronounced you

if I committed such a sin

I was scared that gods would forgive me

I sincerely thank the rain

tonight it’s only poured on this poem

thank you my love,

thank you my broken arm, slit wrist, smashed face

slashed future, my broken evermore

in spite of it all

it was a rain-soaked, good summer.

.

Poet: küçük İskender

Sel Yayınları/Publishing

Translated by: C.Stockford 2016

foto: küçük İskender

The Door – Behçet Necatigil

door cunda

Is knocked

Who will bring what?

They hold the keys

to the things they cannot leave.

It is sensed

who will come when.

The cat on its bed

sings the folk song to itself.

People are sometimes so lonely.

.

Poet: Behçet Necatigil

Translated by: C.Stockford at the Cunda International Workshop

for translators of Turkish literature, 2015

Photo: CS, Cunda, 2015

 

What we wear – Behçet Necatigil

ultramarine

While I live in darkness

you too dress in black.

Wear blues, tomorrow morning

come from the sea.

Fresh grass, wet weeds, flowers

pink, green, ultramarine.

I don’t want young women, nor tender girls

nor anyone

to wear black.

.

Poet: Behçet Necatigil

Translated by: C.Stockford at the Cunda International Workshop

for translators of Turkish literature, 2015

Photo: Windsor & Newton, Ultramarine

Shame of a dead man – Behçet Necatigil

A-Lonely-House-12

Never could I turn my hand to anything.

I lived my life to no benefit.

I would not have survived, I would have died

if it were not for you all.

So many of you went to great lengths for me,

I was almost a burden on your back.

And now I need your help once more,

if it’s no trouble, for the last time.

Just as you brought my wood from the forest,

just as you baked my bread in your oven,

please lay me in my grave

as you know best.

.

Poet: Behçet Necatigil  1916 – 1979

Translated by : C.Stockford at the Cunda International Workshop

for translators of Turkish literature, 2015