Kemal Özer


I know at once whenever I run into them,
they don't linger by the windows as we do,
they don't talk with their friends
standing face to face in the street,
they don't drink from broken street fountains,
never from water peddlers, for ten pennies a glass.

They never crouch in the shadow of a wall, under a tree,
laying scallions on a feta sandwich.
Nor do they, after testing them on their teeth,
let the hard-boiled red eggs fight as we do.
When the heat waves come, they do not rush
to Gülhane Park or Ahirkapi Shores, joining their neighbors.

I know at once whenever I hear their voices,
when it's time to hit the road
they don't trust the wooden suitcase bound with rope,
the cap to protect oneself from the sun,
the lunch box to carry the homemade dishes,
the overalls, the shirt of cotton, they do not trust.

They make faces whenever they see
somebody letting a rabbit tell your fortune,
somebody with a squashed finger, a crooked finger,
somebody with shorn hair walking between two cops;
at houses with cracked windows patched with newspaper,
at one of those weddings in public gardens— they roll their eyes.

It would come down, I say, if it were a wall in-between,
it would be crossed if it were water,
we would make it up to each other one of these holidays
if we'd have been simply estranged from each other;
well, I say, this must mean the world is torn in two,
on one side they live awash in daylight, in sunshine,
we keep toiling on the other, empty-handed.


Translated from Turkish by Mustafa Ziyalan


-{ana sayfa}{marmara}{trambolin}-