Where do your eyes come from? a poem by Haydar Ergülen

Where do your eyes come from?


Where have you come from

From the river!

But why are your eyes not green?

it seems that the river hasn’t flowed from your eyes

your eyes never looked in the river

the river never looked in your eyes

or perhaps you have never looked inside yourself

it seems you left nothing of your eyes in the river

had you cried on its bank your tears would have mingled

and your eyes make peace with the river

but you haven’t been able to glance in its waters

you left it not one gazelle from your Autumn

nor even one lotus flower from your bliss

it seems you’ve left your inner source as dry as a well

your eyes have not dived in the depths of a river

a river’s made not only of its flowing, it has shadow

an eye is made not only of its seeing, but reflection

you’ve never let your eyelashes unfurl in the shade

for lashes need coolness, they lengthen in the cool,

when your eyes were so bare, so sun-filled, full of glances

they might have calmed with the mercy of your lashes,

had you looked in the river your eyes may have been lulled,

even the shadow of the river may have stilled your eyes

and so they would have healed, been able to see night, to see within you,

your lashes could have fallen into the well of dreams

from the bareness of your dessicated eyes,

and your dreams have fallen from your blank sleeplessness

You must have looked not in a river, but a well

as rivers are plumbed with sight, and wells with sound

people get a darkblack voice from gazes deep as wells

it seems the river never passed through your eyes

not even the shadow of the river passed through,

you eyes seem to have plummeted into a well,

people’s eyes take their colour from things that they love

from love, from the river, from olives, from grapes, from reflection

had your eyes come from the river

your soul would have looked at me

if from the river your eyes had come

they would have flowed into me

we would have flowed into each other…

Your eyes do not come from the river

perhaps from solitude

perhaps from a wasteland

perhaps from desolation

and maybe your eyes

come from your tears…


©Haydar Ergülen, ‘Gözleriniz Nereden Geliyor’, Aşk şirrleri Antolojisi, Kırımızı Kedi Yayınevi

©Translated by Caroline Stockford at the 2013 Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature (TECCA)