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BERK, Ilhan

An Old Street in Pera

Birds take to the air above Hagia Irene

Stalks of grass behind their ears.

At last you’re here I say to myself

Here where the roads of an old map meet.

A cat stares at you wide-eyed

And the sky is as low as it gets.

A woman is trying to cross the street. I think of you,

And say the neck I’ve never seen is terribly thin.

Peddlers, soldiers, knife grinders, pass me by

And the sullen faced grave diggers of our world.

A voice says we’re with you on the same peninsula,

Then vanished into an old Pera street.

So it is every night I tread an old street in Pera,

every night your mud on my soles.


For you my unwavering bell tower

You my weightlessness for you

For you, you are my covered bazaar my dead end street

For you my sleepless my Chechen fly

For you my twenty-third year

For you my amazon my white skin

(Translation: George BESSO)