Birhan Keskin (Translated by Öykü Tekten)

since that day, i’ve never had a beautiful sentence to construct
for the world. my dreams, since the tulle and the guns, have been misty.
i’ve remained like an undulating pensive road, an old stone on the road,
a boat docked in the harbor, a mossy rope.

o1, was the distant high seas, stood up and walked away.
i was a forsaken house by the shore, a wooden dock squeaking in a thin strait,
a rubber tier on the dock, orange buoys a little ahead,
i hit the serene waters with the reflection of a northern memory.

within a black & white square, all, all of this is a memory now
you left, i forgot, i was forgotten.

they’ve broken me from the same place i broke you,
i can’t cry you anymore in any sentence.

1Translator's Note: Turkish has no grammatical gender, thus the equivalent to “he,” “she,”and “it” is a gender-neutral pronoun “o.”
In Keskin’s poem, the gender neutrality of Turkish also establishes a certain degree of ambiguity that blurs the distinction between the human and non-human subject. Thus, I left “o” untranslated, instead of using the gender-neutral English pronouns since they would alter significantly the meaning created through the sonic and ontological ambiguity of “o.”

This translation is part of the "A Place, Here" special feature in Gulf Coast 34.2, curated by Madhu H. Kaza.  Read Madhu H. Kaza's introdution here. To read the entire special feature, purchase issue 34.2.

Öykü Tekten is a poet, translator, and editor. She is also a founding member of Pinsapo, an art and publishing experience with a particular focus on work in and about translation, as well as a contributing editor and archivist with Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative. Her work has appeared in the Academy of American PoetsWords Without BordersSAND JournalJadaliyya, the Markaz ReviewOversound Poetry,StatOrec, and Gazete Duvar, among other places. She lives with her two tabby cats in Granada.