(1955 / Istanbul)

Deyrulzafaran Monastery, Southeastren Turkey

His father brought him to this monastery
and left him with the monks when he was eight.
Said he had to go, but would soon be back.
There is no one now left who recalls why,
or when. All anyone remembers is
that times were hard, war was all around,
and death never far.

"Stay here," said his father to him,
"Stay, wait for me. I will come for you.
Do as these nice bearded men say."
He was a quiet child, sweet-tempered,
"I will," he said, "I will wait for you."

And he waited.
Months went by, and years, and decades.
And he waited, with never a doubt.
"My father's coming for me soon,"
he said when asked, "I'm waiting for him".

Every morning he would climb
up to the highest battlements
and gaze across the endless plain.
Never once did he step outside the walls.
Never learnt a single thing, other than prayer.
Never did a thing, other than read the Book.

He stopped the passage of time,
and put his life into suspension,
so that he could start
living again
upon his father's return.

Time, alas, has taken no notice
of his decision to arrest it,
or of his obstinate faith in love.
Now past the age of ninety,
the reunion he awaits will never be.

Translation: Roni Margulies

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