Mediterranean Salad by Gökçenur Ç.

Mediterranean Salad

med salad

Parting the crowd she approaches and hugs me round the neck
It’s Rüzgar, a friend from school I’ve not seen for twenty years!
She got married (I’d heard)
I married, had kids (she doesn’t ask)
You know what…? She says
If only…. She says
She’d always thought

That the strangers she’d thought were me from behind
The faces seen for a second in the windows of missed buses

If only she’d taken a closer look she’d know that
they looked nothing like
that kid she’d left at the table with his salad
that day in the university canteen – yet they all reminded her of me.
‘Our impressions reach us by passing through that sieve we call memory that’s holed and ruined by our past
This is why we see repeated patterns in our coincidences
That pattern is regret
A symbol chosen to represent all of our regrets
An illusion created by desire to change the past
a meaning that our inner self, not being able to bear meaninglessness, tries to impose upon the randomness that it has identified with the emptiness within us’

Clouds look like anything we want them to
Coincidences are just what we make of them.
After you got up from the table I didn’t finish that salad,

I ate nothing for days
I didn’t go home
In the parks where I woke up on wet benches in the morning
I likened the twittering of the birds to your laugh
I kept seeing your face in clouds, in lakes and constellations
When I hit the bottom I took shelter under the letter H and cried
When the wind howled like a mangy wolf I heard your name
Your name which was suited to songs of Summer
Little pink pills and alcohol
Little pink pills and alcohol
A hollow within me, a pinkish grave
A broken spearhead and a mourning that never ends
My mother found me in a dirty bathtub in a melon-coloured motel
after that, rehab and the tubes plunged down my throat
I met my wife at the hospital
I was like a beaten street dog who bared his teeth at anyone who approached to stroke him
She did not run from that wild thing I’d turned into
She patiently licked my wounds
She believed that I was good
As she believed, I recovered
These are all the things I don’t say.

Instead I say
‘You should come over to us for dinner one night’
And I don’t know
Which of the two is the greater cruelty
To leave someone in the middle of their meal
Just after they’ve said ‘I love you’
Or to invite someone round to dinner with your wife.

Poet. Gökçenur Ç.

Translator Caroline Stockford

Translated as part of the Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature 2014

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