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To a Turkish lady writer who told me stories on the train
(February/'47 / Connecticut, USA)

To a Turkish lady writer who told me stories on the train

I see you at times, Asli, in the shape of a dog.
The spell - the curse still lingers on.
With old wounds, new ones freshly dried,
worn out and weary, and your body
in its final intractable cat's life;
a bewitched talking dog or one of those
poison green-eyed cats of the night.
Then you rise, your golden brown calf
reaches out and slenderly your shoulders
fill out the gold embroidered blouse.
Your voice it dreams - as Scheherazade's
the words ooze forth in woozy sleep
in an even mellow stream of well-to-be.
Untroubled you continue into the dawn light,
while Scheherazade hastily fell silent to the sound
of sleeping snuffles from Shahryar.
I myself have only my deviant dictation
cowering over cotton-white writing paper.
Against the snoring old man's hatred
(I call him old although he's our age)
I've nothing to oppose, nor towards death
that hounds you from within, or the violence
it's born with. For all I make myself blind,
and this new boundless helplessness of mine
before your heart and reddish wounds
destroy me, Oh generous story-teller!,
and echoes empty all the way throughout
the years, back to times when I was nothing.

Translated by Finn Printz-Påhlson

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