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from the January 2014 issue


The question I left you takes a lifetime to answer
dear friend whose linen sleeve smells of blood
The master’s gaze is bare, I lean back, untroubled
my checkmate at hand, a cyanide solitaire in my ring
and these two wayward angels, my groomsmen
calling the end of the line, the adventure
of the adventure, this love
muddled with your name

Here, a few hazy images
stolen time, cloaked in atlas
weft in the shuttle, cherry laurel
a province dulled under snow
Was it love or adventure, this long campaign?
I mapped it whole out of doctrinal histories
the silver chain around your neck
the emblem at its tip, you don’t know,
is fate’s black armor
Fear! As the holy books tell, fear!
Because none among the senses
Brings a richer yield than fear

My soul is as deep as the rivers
You shall run over me like red stallions!

A clean silence spans the room
between our brutish emblems
your body's iron core
under its skin mantle
a secret illegible to you, known to me
I track the hum and murmur within you
carry your unbetrayed pieces to a clearing
ruins awaken
effigies are made whole
before my eyes, big with their own boding
We come and go through the ages
searching out the moon god
along the banks where we made love
and then slept in love's tangle
like the tiger, the viper

I kiss you, the scar at your neck
I descend into your well
your ill-lit flanks brighten
at the luster of my touch
your twisted sleeve, your silver chain
all the fasteners that sealed you
come loose, one then the next, in my palms

The spell is complete
on the way back we pass through medieval cities
the wellspring confesses to the new faith
Inside a black box, locked alongside time and space
my words complete the spell
This black magic, this man's milk oozing
from my lips, makes you my lover
we sleep and bathe in moon’s glow
I watch the sun set in your twilit face

You had no name when we met
we did not notice it wasn’t there
sometimes we used the wind or a few olives
in place of your name

You had no name when we met
nor later on
as time passed, you became someone else

Now your name is there
now my soul’s depths, wrapped in haze and fumes
rise and bluster my ambushed being on all fronts
Knives whetted in water
prowl my face, their hideout
My quickened sorrows, my cloudy well
the law between my soul and flesh
return to me, released
from the black magic made of my own hands
the history in me is over
I wipe away prints
of any touch that say
there was love

And now you have a name
and now
in this time between us
is the hour of revenge

Omaira. I gave you this name
and the seasons and all their meanings
Let me offer you a sea for your two pebbles
blue wheat for your dreams
May you have nine lives, I’ll kill them each by each
until one tawny stark naked night
all your enemies will show
for your funeral at my breast

The legends about you will rot and mix with the soil
I’ll lay your head on my lap
comb your hair with a silver comb
I’ll wail over my own bitter wreckage
howling like wolves, like jackals
I’ll kill you, revive you in me

Your face glowing from the lit stove
your smile steady, unaware of its violence
whip and thrash all the slaves in me
Sure, I rigged the game
with a loaded die or two and black-charmed talismans
and took you from your fate
tethered you savagely to me
or, after all, you had me captive
inside your blank silence
behind those doors that closed upon the world

Your flatness, your lovelessness,
your infinite lack of art or intention
all the parts of the world that leave you unmoved
how ravishing they do make you
I am so taken
with your passionless body
I will either kill you
or fell a Bronze-age statue to cast yours

I am, Omaira, like a delirious tree
babbling from the very depth
of the fables my body has visited
the tremors inside me keep me standing
stolen time returns to pelt me
Look, I give to you my fearfulness
from the outskirts of existence
I am bested, I lay down my weapons
the spell is complete
I have reached the end of this vast map
And blotted out its every indication
my love is here on death’s edge, Omaira
stay where you are, don’t you move!

“Omayra” © 1993 Murathan Mungan. @ 1993 Metis Yayınları. By arrangement with the publisher. Translation @ 2013 Aron Aji and David Gramling. All rghts reserved.

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