Returning home, at night… by Ataol Behramoğlu, 1977

Returning home, at night…

Returning
at night
I was staring at the sea
thinking selfish things:

this sea
as deep as creation
as dark as space
what if I throw myself into this deepness
and so forth…

Suddenly
I saw the stoker
below me
in the emptiness to my right
Filling the belly of the boat
with coal
Propelling his spade
toward’s the fire’s mouth
and with a practised cast
hurling the coal

Then he’d draw a long iron rod
from somewhere
and stoke

Ceasing for a while
he’d pace then
for a few minutes
like a caged lion

In front of him
on a tiny
rickety brazier
a rickety tea pot boiled

I looked at the stoker
for such a long time
I forgot the sea
and selfish thoughts
patrolling my mind
about emptiness
darkness
death
the cosmos
space
and so on

A man was working
not far from me
with the beauty of
muscle
fibre
nerve

It was eleven
at night.
There would surely be those waiting for him.
A pale-faced woman
maybe,
And two children
seeing the face of their father
silhouetted between two sleeps

I spoke to a machinist
a machinist
retired twenty-seven years
We spoke of wages
taxes
and too much toil.

A young worker
joined our talk.
He seemed like
a well-read factory hand.

The ship drew alongside the quay.

I
by mingling with this outflowing crowd
had forgotten the cosmos and so on

The stoker
was drying the sweat of his face
with his shirt sleeve

And behind us
speaking of
unfair taxes
prices
too much toil
tiredness and
corporeal cost
the voices of the worker and machinist
could still be heard

.
Ataol Behramoğlu, 1977

Translated by Caroline Stockford, 2015

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