Her first book, Rüzgar Dolu Konaklar (Winds Howl Through the Mansions), published in 1996, unrelated to the contemporary mainstream of Turkish poets and poetry, won several literary prizes. Her second book, Tanrı Görmesin Harflerimi (God Must Not See The Letter of My Script) in 1999 was warmly greeted. Two further books, appeared at the same time in 2002, Ayın Büyüttüğü Oğullar (The Sons Reared by the Moon) and Onun Çölünde (In His Desert), have been continuing the distinctive language and world of imagery special to herself and her poetry.
She has a translated book, which published by ARC in England, called In the Temple of a Patient God.
Her translated book in German and French published in Luxembourg by PHİ Publishing House. Her last book, İbrahim’in Beni Terketmesi (Leaving of Abraham), published in March 2008, was considered by the critics to be her best book ever. In that book, her new way of imagery was considered as mystique. She created a personal ontology and a personal mythology inspired by the thousands year of Sufi Tradition.
May 2009, she has published an album-book called Doğunun Kapısı: Diyarbakır (The Gate of East: Diyarbakir). The book is about the city called Diyarbakir, which is ancestral homeland of Kurdish and Armenian people. She has written a history of the city, which is nearly 3000 years old. Through her poetic text and the photos you can see the history of the city form ancient time to present. The book is considered by the critics, as one of the best book ever written about an Anatolian city.
In 2010, she published Kader Denizi (Sea of Fate) with the photographs taken by Mehmet Günyeli after the exhibition of Sea of Fate in the prestigious galleries in Istanbul and Ankara.
In February, 2011 she published her recent book called Dağın Ardına Bakmak (Looking Behind the Mountain) which is her first prose book.
When Bejan Matur’s first book of poems was published in Turkey in 1996, wining two prizes, it was hailed in the world of contemporary Turkish poetry as a ‘breath of fresh air’, innovative in language and content. A woman poet of Kurdish Alevi origin, born in Maraş, writing in Turkish, a voice sometimes childlike, sometimes ancient and disturbing, drawing imagery from unfamiliar tribal sources and mythologies to tell a history of families disrupted and displaced, against a windswept landscape, ‘a black rain’ of decay and death, darkness and harsh desolation.
In one of her essays Maureen Freely, Omar Pamuk's translator and President of English Pen, wrote: "to read Bejan Matur is to walk into a windswept desert strewn with bones and broken bodies and stones stained red by absent gods. Nothing is whole; nothing explains itself; nothing lasts. Horsemen gallop out of the night only to fade into the mountains on the horizon. Gravestones line the roads. Ruined houses howl with wind while shepherds sing dirges about a shattered, scattered tribe left to wander in the dark.
It is a haunted, desolate and fragmented landscape in which every stone glows with a grief beyond words. One could say the same of the poems in this collection, and even of the poet herself. These are not autobiographical works: Matur is writing about a people not a person. Her poems are jagged shards that stand together only to expose history as a myth.
And it is possible, when reading her poems, to imagine what that might mean. It is evident in their very shape, for Matur carves away at her images until she’s stripped them down to the anguish at their heart. She claims no literary ancestors, drawing instead upon the oral traditions of her childhood."
Also the critic John Berger, wrote about the difficulty to categorise her poetry: "Impossible to describe her poetry in prose. Its verbs have no tense, its prepositions are like nouns, its own nouns are cries. Its aim is to outwit nonsense by outflanking it. It does so, it succeeds. Once everything was everything and so nothing existed. This nothing then broke into fragments, into shards which were real. And on these existent shards were written obscure phrases, which she, the poet, today transcribes. The reader does not follow word by word, but hand in hand, to touch and recognise piece after piece in the dark."
For Bejan Matur life and art is the same thing. Since 2005, she has worked as a journalist, regularly contributing articles and pieces about Kurdish politics, Armenian news and culture, prison literature, and women’s issues. Matur is a former director of a cultural foundation called DKSV (Diyarbakır Cultural Art Foundation) and she has worked with displaced children and women.
Her poetry is strong and deep as her fights and travels, where words are doors opened to an universe with no borders, no distances.
Winds howl through the mansions / Rüzgâr dolu konaklar
When we were born
It was our mother
Who had caskets made for us
And filled them with silver mirrors
Dark blue stones
And fabrics smuggled from Aleppo
She would put us in those caskets
And whisper in our ears
To stop us being lonely in the dark
She would add our childhood too
To comfort us
With that childhood.
But when we were left
In the long river whose waters streamed
With blood that poured from ritual razor-slashes on our backs
Our mother never wanted such an outrage
And that is why
We kept telling the waters
While she was sleeping
We moved far away.
What’s left from that flight
Everything, everyone is here.
I am here
My brothers and sisters are here with their loss
My mother with her dresses
My brother with his fear of war
My father’s here, but not awake
Around me the world has shrunk
All like a dream
That hurts the longer it lasts
Stroking her black velvet dress
And veiling her gaze with her hair
Would remember our father:
She said he was on a white mountain
A white mountain getting smaller every spring
When our brother
Older than all of us
And afraid of the distant war
Never came home
We too feared the war.
But it wasn’t war that kept him away.
On his way back
He fell asleep with his horse
On the snowy mountain facing our father’s
As our mother’s face grew thinner
And our mother’s shoulders shrank
We wondered which mountain to look at
On the long veranda of our house
As her velvet dress grew longer
Her silver hairband heavier
Her silver belt looser
Our mother looked more and more
Like the mountains she watched.
In spring her shell was wearing out
But we couldn’t reach her.
She was dying
She never appeared again on the veranda
Lost every winter
Returning in spring
Our mother became a tree
A tattooed oak
Her moaning in our ears
In her black velvet dress
Our mother wandered among the mountains
She was a rootless oak
Silent, now and then weeping
Before we parted
We would gather in our mother’s shadow
And whisper among ourselves
Please God forgive us
Spare our house
Don’t touch our veranda
Only there can we laugh
Only there can we be really silent
Only there can we say what we like
And even if we don’t touch her
We can see our mother from afar
When the cold spell began
Horsemen came to take us away
Horsemen old and strange
Who made us afraid
Snow veiled their eyes.
Without a word
Not looking at our little hands
They came to carry us off to the mansions
Mansions howling with winds
While our mother
Between our father and brother
We went far away with the old horsemen.
Our necks ached with looking round
Our eyes narrowed at every bend.
But in vain
We wept in vain
Our sickness was in vain
The horsemen had lost the way
We could never go back
We were like rocks rolling from the mountains.
We four sisters
In a valley of deepening shadow
Searched for the beds
No longer ours
Searched for days.
With every mountain we crossed
We were so far from each other
So alone with ourselves
No beginning no end
No inside no outside
There we were
In the midst of that world of stone.
As our paths lengthened
Our mother’s tattoos grew darker
We would all separate
Where the road split.
But who would be the first
The first to be afraid
Of the way
And the old horseman.
We were in no order
We trembled at every parting of the ways.
I was the last
The narrow road stretched before me
Gathering strength from their grief
I was the traveller© translated by Ruth Christie
Bizim için yaptırdığı sandıklara
Ve Halep’ten kaçak gelen kumaşlar
Bir zaman sonra
Bizi koyup o sandıklara
Ve konakları fısıldayacaktı kulağımıza.
Yalnız kalmayalım diye karanlıkta
Sırtımızdan jiletle akıtılan kanın
Karıştığı uzun ırmağa
Annemiz bu kadarını istemezdi
Gidişin kendisinden artakalan
Her şey, herkes burada.
Kardeşlerim yitikliğiyle burada
Erkek kardeşim savaş korkusuyla
Babam burada hiç uyanmış olmasa da
Dünya eksilmiş etrafımda
Bir düş sanki olanlar
Uzayan ve uzadıkça acıtan
Siyah kadife elbisesini okşadığında
Saçlarını düşürerek bakışlarına
Beyaz bir dağda olduğunu söylüyordu onun
Beyaz ve her bahar küçülen bir dağda
Hepimizden büyük olan
Ve uzaktaki savaştan korkan
Dönmeyince bir daha
Biz de korktuk savaştan.
Ama savaş değildi onu bırakmayan.
Babamızın karşısındaki karlı dağda
Annemizin yüzü azaldıkça
Omuzları küçüldükçe annemizin
Şaşırdık hangi dağa bakacağımıza
Evimizin uzun sofasında
Kadife elbisesi uzayıp
Gümüş başlığı ağırlaştıkça
Bolardıkça gümüş kemeri
Annemiz benziyordu baktığı dağlara.
Baharda inceliyordu kabuğu
Ama ulaşamıyorduk ona.
Bu defa gerçekten eriyordu
Bir daha görünmedi sofada
Her kış kaybolan
Ve baharda ortaya çıkan
Bir ağaç oldu annemiz
Dövmeleri olan bir meşeydi o
İniltisi geliyordu kulağımıza
Her gece siyah kadifesiyle
Dolaşıyordu dağların arasında
Kökleri olmayan bir meşeydi o
Suskun, arasıra ağlayan
Toplaşır gölgesine annemizin
Tanrım n’olur bağışla
Evimizi bağışla tanrım n’olur
Orada gülebiliyoruz ancak
Orada adamakıllı susuyoruz
Orada ağzımız bizim oluyor
Görüyoruz annemizi uzaktan
Atlılar gelmişti bizi almaya
Yaşlı ve tuhaf atlılardı
Kar yağmıştı bakışlarına.
Ve hiç konuşmadan bizimle
Bakmadan ellerimizin küçüklüğüne
Konaklara götüreceklerdi bizi
Rüzgârla uğuldayan konaklara
Babamızın ve kardeşimizin ortasında
Uzaklaştık yaşlı atlılarla.
Boynumuz ağrıdı geriye bakmaktan
Gözlerimiz uzadı her kıvrımda.
Boşuna bizim ağlayışımız
Yönü yitirmişti atlılar
Dönemedik bir daha
Dağlardan yuvarlanan taşlar gibiydik.
Gölgesiyle derinleşen bir vadide
Artık bizim olmayan
Aradık yatağımızı günlerce.
Kaç dağ gittiysek
O kadar uzaktık birbirimizden
O kadar yalnız kendimizle
Ne son ne başlangıç
Ne içeri ne dışarı
O taştan dünyanın ortasında.
Annemizin dövmeleri kararmakta
Ama önce kim
Ve yaşlı atlıdan.
Bu yüzden ürperiyorduk her ayrımda.
Ben kalmıştım sona
Önümde uzanan dar yolla
Acılarından güç alan
Bir yolcuydum artık hayatta
The virgin and the goddess /
Sin*, beloved goddess of the moon
forgot her temple
in this meaningless void,
perhaps for the reason,
the reason perhaps,
that humanity slept for a thousand years
and at last woke up,
that existence was a sleep,
and had no answers
from that day on.
I know that there in that fearful beginning,
the living are waiting for something.
There will come a flood,
and all will assemble for the beginning.
But the door was closed.
Of those left, only sighs remained.
Ill-omened white stones,
inscriptions precious as water,
were bound to death and loneliness.
On the first night of the year the virgin
went out with her mother.
When she opened her hands
beneath the stars
and pleaded with the moon and stars
the goddess heard her.
She whispered with Kays.*
And love fills the heart with fear,
destroys the mystery,
and touches loneliness.
The goddess does not know
that all this time
the virgin believed
in the stones she rubbed her face on.
And had great belief in caves.
She believed that the hot springs there
would bind a human to life.
Even if the city has gates
there is no air for her to breathe.
That night the virgin did not sleep
but ran to the waters,
hoping to find
a silver woman in her mirror.
Perhaps a hand
stretching out for love
for the fragrance of a rose,
everything is forgetful.
If even the little windblown leaf
comes out of the well it entered
it will be different.
But there’s no change.
Phantoms crowd together
in fear of eternity
they build a city.
The city has graves.
Jonquils open on children’s graves,
oleanders on the graves of the old.
Everything grieves for itself,
The wall that lifts
earth and stone skywards
the sky has no answer to the towers.
Eternity like the moon
keeps itself from the world.
There’s one thing the virgin knows.
She can go and find
a wall to shout before.
Whenever there is a grave like her name
she can shelter there.
She can beat her head
on those ill-omened white stones.
For all those promises
her mouth narrows to a line.
Her breast fills
with the wuthering of a sky
that has lost its voice.
The virgin wanders in the courtyard,
in the courtyard
there are only eyes.
for someone to look at her
she is searching for love in death.
But no one looks
as the weary heart
in the middle of
Sin In Sumerian religion, god of the moon and father of the sun-god. Su-en (contracted to Sin) designated the crescent moon.
Kays Arabic poet under the name of Mecnun famous for his love of Leylâ.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
too big to carry
followed their noses
and found the way.
For the sake
and the survival of the tribe.
Wind, the good god of the steppe
blew through our hearts
and blessed us.
It must be a supergod’s
the hand that can’t light a fire.
For the sake of daybreak
my mother would say,
and the patience.
Night was like an eye washed in water.
and the hand that knew fire.
and sheltered in the plain.
Wheat in our fields
bitter water in our well.
We dug earth’s womb
and gave it our tongue.
We lost love with one shudder
on the edge of that charred mansion.
Birds hovered between earth and sky.
‘Now the tribe cannot possibly survive’
they said and flew away.
We believed the birds
in their flurry,
that the tribe would not survive.
With the tremulous soul
of all migrant peoples
we peered about us.
First at the mountains
then the plain
we peered at the rocks
and the hot springs.
that nothing stirs
from its bed.
what ill omen
What made the sky above us shrink
to become our fate?
Once it was said
that leaves are the eyes of the oak-tree
the cave-dwellers told us.
our god too
hid away in the cave.
From there he blew death
from darkness in the depths of the sea.
Even the sinking sun
knew when to leave.
What are we waiting for?
How much longer will this last?
When the time came
all the good things like leaving
entered our sleep.
We believed the woman
and her eyes that said
the tribe would not survive.
I was a woman then.
I’d never been involved
in the strange complexities
Every tender loving
cut off my blood
everything I loved was fragile.
Going is not going
nor staying, staying.
If I come with the language
of the deaf and dumb
and think of words
I’ll have no place to be.
But my soul,
my soul at the start of its journey
in its purity believed the earth,
believed the woman
and that sleep of innocence.
If my left arm is broken
in the dream
it is my childhood
Earth is good
my mother says,
it takes away pain.
The house that enclosed her with her henna’ed hair,
But her eyes, hazel with green motes
are like those nights of scattered stars.
And her hands smell of earth.
When I find this strange
I want her to touch me
but it doesn’t soothe my pain.
I understand time passes.
To be a mother is to know the pain of others.
When the sense of wonder starts, it’s spring.
There I am setting out in a winter scene
cypresses on my road
the unhappy wife of the station-master
my hope far away
in snow sucked dry hurt by the sun.
My look softened later
in the stone courtyard the begonia opening
the quivering playful white in the cotton
everything flows into the sun.
When screeching birds
filled the valley
I became a mother
made love with a man.
In the picture
This swearing at idols
this cursing of idols
how much longer?
Water: dead rain
remains in the well of the womb
our tribe did not survive
it came to an end.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
We think our grief will diminish
if we sleep one night
in a temple with no walls.
But that’s not enough
we tie rags
to every tree we find.
We tell stories
we believe there will always be love.
But love ends
slowly drags on
a glass eye of endless blue.
Sometimes colours give pain,
white for example.
A person in a white bed
is like a bird,
like the death of children
as they wander in the water.
The man weeping in a grave of rock
buries his dead in water and sky,
he comes with his grief for comfort.
Time is like prayer and the bird.
Something happens to the clouds
with a heaviness
a darkness from afar.
They fill the hollows
of strange lost lives.
in the cistern waters
as the lost key gleams
our rain, says someone,
hidden in our wells
our sorrow in the palms of our hands.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Song of the frogs /
Every river mouth is a place for being blessed
a place for waiting
and resting there.
Every river mouth is a place for burying the happy,
for their return to water
and tasting the shadow of water.
In every valley at night
only the temple-bodies change
sunk in water.
The moment too short
like the past a dark abyss.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The moon sucks up our grief /
for Hüseyin Kendal
We gathered sounds from everywhere
the sound of mandolins from balconies
the sound of laughter from rooms
our lips deprived of mist
we stayed endlessly silent.
We were water hiding under steep cliffs
shy and touchy
We had no questions to ask of life
no answers but the glances we exchanged.
Some nights as the moon grew big
the path we took
drew our bodies to the mountains
to the mountains to be dispersed
The valleys that longed for the shining eyes
of our childhood
asked for our eyes
asked us to leave our eyes behind
We never cried.
We left our eyes behind
and our songs.
This land was strange to us now.
Laden with turbid clouds of grief
but no rain-soaked earth.
We were tired
waiting for a breath of air on our wounds.
The olive trees were waiting
and the white earth with its nameless insects
were waiting for us.
Now we had no god.
We were forgotten.
We had left behind our gaze
in the depths
we could not see.
No memories waited for us
nor did we leave any trace as we passed
as though we had been created then and there
the world of vapour and we of grief.
As it sucked up our grief the waxing moon
was waiting somewhere far off.
We walked with touches of the moon
veiling our pain
but we were still tired
we could not emerge from the whispering leaves of the maquis.
We had to lie down and rest
we had to forget our mandolin-dreams
we had to lay our hands to rest on the vapour
and impress our grief on the opening void of our hearts.
The wind at our fingers
deepened by the mandolin strings,
the familiar wind that lingered,
we had to give our selves
to the wind that knew all
the wind that carried all away
One touch of that wind would gather up our remains.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The unhappy queen /
Her skirts turned to ice
the unhappy queen
no longer believes
in the eye’s magic
the voice she awaited for days
hidden beyond the hills.
Now there’s no one to describe
the narrow alleys where sometimes the caravans meet
and squeeze past
no one who knows
the perfumed loneliness
of spice-selling hans.
She keeps waiting for a voice
from the fine-fingered fragrance of tobacco.
Old as autumn
whispering through the forest
the queen decays
in her black skirt of ice.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The east with its acrid wind /
Silent and sad
I abandoned myself to the earth
My heart was saying Wait
Find a temple soon
But I was too late
The shadow of the walls remained
But they themselves had gone.
Sometimes I ask if the east
The east with its acrid wind
Is enough for me to understand.
I packed in my bag
Quatrains and maps
I gathered pebbles
I let my hair down in sorrow.
In the midst of that strange crowd
Talking of you
I looked into the deep sleep of mountain lakes
I looked at all the roads in sight
I had no power
To ask about your aching wounds.
Everyone knows that birds belong to God
And women know that birds belong to God
And they ask him
God what have we done to you
Did we break your birds’ wings
What harm have we done you
Silent as my mother
And said to those who were left
Why do you linger here.
Ah dear flesh
Why do you linger here
Follow its scent and go
After that acrid wind-© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The black bier /
The shrinking corpse on a black bier,
weary from travelling a river with no descent,
was a baritone I think –
the shrill voices of the dead were gone,
powerless against deep voices.
It must be a baritone, the corpse.
Its sense of wonder lost, the river pours on,
the weight of its being knows where to go,
sometimes it stops
and looks into the depths,
the black bier is tired
slowed down by the voice of the corpse.
As the calm water ends
it is the long-stemmed loneliness
of the lake and its water-lilies that pulls
the black bier to spill into the lake
on its way to the courtyard that cannot be entered
without kissing its stones.
The water-lily murmurs:
‘Most of me lies deep below
dark and strong,
my head rejoices in air.
I can't touch the leaves
that wrap me round,
I can't speak,
my voice is silent.
When sometimes life-giving water drowns,
I can hardly protect my head.
On the other bank
are the cells of the clamorous dead
misty with the spirit-breath
of the oak-tree.
That's why I am always quiet.
I listen to those who come on a black bier,
I whisper my dreams,
don't let the water lapping my body drown me,
I keep running from gray clouds.'
The corpse and the water-lily part,
the voice ends,
not the baritone but an unknown
who stretches on, dust and wind
rows of stones
lingering in the cells
the body forgotten is consoled
and becomes a little foolish thing.
Unquestioned pain grows worse.
The sun sinks for the last time.
Perhaps it has drowned.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The moment, the legend /
I flew into the field of clouds
with the taste of sun and water
there is no night there,
there’s no night at the ends of the earth.
Bound in a silver cage
like a faithless concubine,
I curled up into the moon,
the moon a grandfather
and I a goddess,
flew for days together in the twilight.
My neck frail
my heart empty
I brushed the trees with my face,
I brushed the wind with my eyes in sorrow.
The journeys I made
the nightless sky
where I flew
tired as the god
who sits in the field of clouds,
The moment, the legend.
The moment, the legend.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
God's childhood /
A place we return to again and again
is our childhood.
the morning call to prayer
begins at daybreak
by remembering the dead.
The mother dies,
the mother dies at the call to morning prayer,
and every child who is blessed by God
thinks of God.
The stones have tales to tell.
Most of all in the mornings
they lie in a damp peace,
curled up in sleep
women with their moist thighs,
weary shrivelled men,
they hope to be blessed.
But these are all words,
mine would be
a strong smell of soap and water,
the women’s cotton underwear
reeking of damp thighs.
where the day begins
with the sound of unspoken grief.
And, we are told,
rejoice in your fate,
delight in your fate,
in the name of life
call it a happy chance.
A strong smell of soap and water,
the women’s cotton underwear,
damp between their thighs,
and the men’s fungus feet.
In the mosque fountain
the many-coloured water
Death lurks in the whiteness of hands
and the body’s curve;
in the moistness within me
the trembling desire for my man
I have forgotten all,
the place I’ve come from,
my mother, my father,
going to the graveyard.
There the oak stood alone,
the oak amongst the dead,
death’s best story-teller.
A tree, wherever it stands,
resembles that place.
Does the oak, for example,
among Mediterranean rocks
differ from those rocks?
The cypress is the thread
of the final moment
when the dead stay still,
with a dark sigh.
The willow, weeping willow
has lost its heart to the water, it’s fragile.
Everything resembles what it looks at.
I resemble my mother,
and of course my father,
and the cat that lives in my great-aunt’s house.
If we don’t take thought for the earth and seas
we’re making a mistake.
The first moment the earth took a breath made the seas,
it was rage that made mountains.
So say the old books.
Every language has a life before,
long before itself.
These books tell us only
We look in silence
unable to remember.
Poets can’t understand at all
the world has pain that remains a child,
and in this call to prayer it comes out in the open.
God’s blessing rests on the dead;
we notice something called love
and learn to return,
freed from the earth.
With a whisper of truth to those who live in the desert
the earth dries up
and what we call river
must be lost in the desert.
What we call river, conceals its earth.
He who describes nothing understands nothing,
the shroud of non-being at that first moment.
I know a river
in a desert’s lecherous belly.
Perhaps in a mystic state it sees
that its nearest lake
swallows its mud,
and keeps its boats within.
But it knows
that a lake, as it swallows its water
a lake that swallows its fish
that we’ll die
before we see all the lakes of the world.
You are a stranger
to the peace that comes with dawn,
to the pain of sunset.
But say –
you are not lord of the morning,
The path belongs to the traveller,
the day to the one who returns,
the poem to life
and the seer.
resting on the dead
in the land of Moslems
sheds the day’s blood.
Our childhood starts with our mother’s death
Their childhood never ends for those whose mothers are dead
You are not lord of the morning
I am tired
of looking with bleeding breath.
No one belongs to anyone.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Time in the north /
Look, the god here is good.
stands as though
here’s where the world begins.
The sea says stay
only stay so your life may pass
watching travellers come and go.
In the north
in the town that stands
like a place where the world begins,
if there is time
to bury the light
and flesh to wear out the heart,
those who believe this
will create a way.
There must certainly be a man and woman
who believe this
and take the road.
And they’ll go
from the mountains where the moon appears
to the woman as a crescent.
The woman quotes a dead poet,
a murdered poet,
“language makes order in the chaos of life.”
Later she says I don’t understand
road is road
earth is earth.
The soul speaks through the eyes
and sometimes through the mouth.
The road ends
as the world begins
the wave teaching life to the town
pounds the cliff it sucks.
Look, it was saying,
I weep by this rock I’m sinking.
this foam is my empty words.
I was spellbound
by the rock’s patience.
with dark trees pinned to its breast
is a pirate’s fort.
Not a sound from history
if you shut its mouth.
The woman frowned,
the thinning forest stuttered
do you think if this sea
hadn’t swallowed a mountain
once upon a time
And with such satisfaction . . .
light is not an answer
continue it says only
For you who whispered your love
in a dark room
before you sank to sleep,
compassion still comes from the earth.
If someone says
that light precedes the soul
and it is a little flawed
compared with the chaos of life
goodness is simple.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Ceremonial robes / Tören giysileri
In the cold decayed
heart of these lands
I saw eyes.
Everyone was there with their voice
and their body’s pose.
We know someone best while making love,
when we corrode our hearts together.
Growing heavy, our body
wakes us in the night.
Houses with courtyards are like graves.
Childhood is a sleep, long-lasting.
And a yearning to touch,
a yearning drags us towards death.
I tested myself in every body,
I abandoned myself in every city.
I took the skies of countries to my heart
and when I saw the emptiness of my heart,
I said, it’s time to go.
Inside the mouldering robes of ceremony
roots sway on the hanger.
Even if we drop fire in the sea
it will burn for ever,
it burns, a gift of desolation to the dark.
Perhaps history is a mistake says the poet
mankind’s a mistake says god.
in a future corrupt as the heart of these lands,
mankind’s a mistake says god,
I’m here to correct it
but too late.
The wave of red lifeless water,
the road followed at night,
the poor earth strewn with travellers,
the white swaying shrouds,
The only thing needed for a race
is the horse’s mane.
This is the truth,
now we are here
rotted away in a rut.
God must not see the letters of my script.
Mankind’s a mistake, he keeps saying.
And to correct his mistake
he gives sorrow,
February 1997 Berlin© translated by Ruth Christie
Çürümüş donuk kalbinde bu toprakların
Herkes sesiyle vardı
Ve duruşuyla gövdesinin.
Bir insanı en iyi sevişirken tanırız.
Kalbimizi birlikte çürütürken.
Mezar gibidir avlulu evler.
Çocukluk bir uykudur. Uzun sürer.
Ve dokunmak için bir arzu
Bir arzu sürükler bizi ölüme.
Ben kendimi sınadım her gövdede
Ben kendimi bıraktım her şehirde
İçime aldım göğünü ülkelerin
Ve boşluğunu görünce kalbimin
Çürümüş tören giysileri içinde
Askıda salınan kökler.
Biz denize düşürsek de ateşi
O hep yanar.
Issızlık bahşeder karanlığa. Yanar.
Tarih bir yanılgı olabilir diyor şair
İnsan bir yanılgıdır diyor tanrı.
Bu toprakların kalbi kadar
Çürümüş bir sonrada
İnsan bir yanılgıdır diyor tanrı.
Ve düzeltmek için varım
Ölü kızıl suyun dalgası
Gece yürünen yol
Ve yolcuların dağıldığı zavallı yeryüzü
Salınan beyaz kefenler
Ve bir koşu için gerekli tek şey
Şimdi ve burada
Tanrı görmesin harflerimi
İnsan bir hata diyor durmadan
Ve hatasını düzeltmek için
Şubat '97, Berlin
Gazale returns /
Gazale hanged herself on the oldest tree in the forest,
the darkest tree of the forest.
She is writing still perhaps,
a tree in the country of trees.
Gazale’s soul belongs to the forest now
her soul is busy with her knowledge of roots
she can’t remember sunlight.
On the shore of the forest country
are spacious courtyards.
Bright pools exchanging tranquil looks.
Gazale gets news of everything.
Her neck strung tight
she looks with a shadow’s weight.
I must return, she says,
to the shy waterbirds of my childhood.
Perhaps I did wrong, she says,
to understand a life whose language is not mine.
Running to the life she knew
perhaps she met with fire.
As Gazale was dying in that forest
I wanted to become a tree.
I would have a place like the tree
like grief for an untimely death
Gazale hanged herself on her own name,
on the live body of leaves.
But her name is dead.
Somewhere it roams about,
passing from colour to colour
it becomes earth.
Gazale swallows her shadow.
she becomes death.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Time consoled in the stone /
In the courtyard where sick horses
circle to recover,
a puny youth
his neck thinner than the neck of a sick horse,
stands in the middle of a stone bridge
in long black clothes.
The censer swinging at his neck
shows how far he must travel,
but his horse is sick,
unable to go
and the moon shall not enter his sleep.
History must move on
and find its place.
The word must find its subject.
His hair must grow long
and be damp and fragrant.
Time consoled in the stone
when it’s dark
you’ll be driven from here.
But we will remain.
The eagle’s beak
in the well.
Remember your ancestry,
they say history will end
frozen in a photograph.
Man creates his face on his own
and so there is wind.
A place weeping enters our sleep
and never leaves.
Note: Zeytun. In the south-east of Turkey, an area which once had a large Armenian population, subject to many massacres concluding with the major events of 1915.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The storm blows childhood away /
The storm blows childhood away.
Bones are left behind.
To be in water is the same as love
you understood that.
Now I remember,
your closeness when you said,
you’ve grown thin and must take care of yourself.
Then I remember
I became mother to Deniz.
I must nurture her childhood
and show her my heart.
I must explain how I never went mad
and how I kept my wits
in my body.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Song of the bones /
At night when the soul glowed
with the light of a star
I tested myself.
that I saw the little secret hearts of the hills.
How strange the song of decayed bones,
of silver and gold,
sung there by those secret lives.
As night falls let everyone cover themselves
with the deadly glitter,
the gilded glitter
left behind after death.
Let everyone swell
let there be dust
protecting the world from the whiteness of women;
let it be quietly smeared on their breasts.
In a canyon’s waters
my friend wanders
and never looks back.
If you ask him, life was good,
the way well-lit and clear
and the night long.
If you ask him, we all have a shore
where we can stand and wave.
It’s a life that will say farewell
and be bidden farewell.
I bewitched the heart of magic
and entered night’s bed.
I took his soul in my arms.
I spoke to him.
in fact my own poor being
what else but fear.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Those who search /
Those who search for graves
know that hidden within their depths
is everything made with love
war and skill
the story of the tribe and sorrow.
We stood on a stony road.
We were in Antep
in the field of pistachio trees without shade.
Antep which had seen it all, grown old,
The earth turns red when it rains
like a child shamed by a dream.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Tale I /
A grandfather teller of tales
sat us down in a ring
one snowy night.
As he showed us fire
he told us stories of good and evil.
He walked our childhood
through the dragon’s empire
and lulled it to sleep in the garden.
that hot story-night
the fire when I turn my face was good,
the shadow looming on the wall was evil.
and ending in us.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Tale II /
When a goddess of war
crosses the little wooden bridge
the snake sliding near her sandal
doesn’t touch her.
The soul has no other face.
The bow like the body swaying
along that narrow bridge,
opens up all the forests.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Tale III /
the wolf grabs
the child’s half-open blanket.
This is what grandmothers are for;
summer nights disputing
who is the sibling of whom,
in whose dream does the fairy queen whisper.
But we were children then,
the one with the key was king.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
A death far away /
Marika and her grandfather drew water from the well
Filled an old clay cup with water
And looking at the boozy grapes on the branch
Smiled like autumn.
Her poverty was not like ours
As she laid pale autumn flowers
On her grandmother’s grave
She lit a candle in the graveyard full of eyes
Church and well
There was never such a death in the world
Nowhere like that one.
Bucharest© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The truth about snakes /
Snakes look back as they glide
and leave their truths behind.
What remains knows.
What remains understands.
Nobody saw the swallow’s nest
no compassion entered the courtyard.
I closed the swallow’s cage.
Even if he wishes he can’t fly,
he builds no nest in the body of existence.
He can’t build.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The island, myself and the laurel /
I went to the land of my kin
veiled in the waters of a scattered womb,
spread under the sun to dry, their hearts withered.
I went to the land of my kin
within me a deep love-longing.
My body wants to break up,
to mix with their earth.
But they have no earth
And a dense history.
With their eyes’ mystery
they search for life
among the stones.
created one misty morning,
told me, “all those tales were ours”.
Ours were those severed bodies
and creation a secret.
With our humanity that all these eyes and breasts,
and all these soulless stones
were not enough to make,
that past was ours.
Unhappy glowering men
among the stones.
Their land was full of broken bodies,
severed heads, unseeing eyes,
everything part of a mystery.
All those bodies will never come together,
all those scattered limbs
Is this proof of time, they ask,
that these broken bodies feel no pain?
Surely proofs of time
must be forts erected on the hilltops.
with nowhere to be but in words,
fell asleep in the restless word-bed
and never woke up
from that sleep.
I addressed the laurel tree before me.
“In the land of my kin
you are still the sacred gift
which reminds them of life.
You’re from the race of trees
that knows the past,
its soul drunk with the smell.”
I set out on the way,
a way so hard
it makes sons forget their mothers.
The skipper losing sight of his land,
whispers soul into the waters.
A laurel leaf,
a severed head,
a candle that leads to the dead,
flaming and heavy-scented.
Shadow of a great forest, the voices of gods,
no one left here from the sea.
Desire pierces their eyes like a knife
and never leaves.
If the well had a tongue
it would say
that depth is a person searching the self,
the gaze plunged within.
makes its voice heavy
and winds round the depths.
Whoever sings the song
will think it’s the voice of shepherd women.
I chased the severed head of my god
from my house.
I addressed him straight and said,
Actually, time that lies among these stones
It is our unhappiness.
Our sky is so spacious
that we can remove our hearts
and make them bleed in the sun,
Our soul is dark.
We played games with the sea,
it divides and gathers together,
The road we took back to the past
Everything we thought we found was childhood.
A cool courtyard
and at the head of every street a well
each lurking like a thief.
The sky’s heart within,
and if you raise the lid
it gives you the sky
and adds you to its silence
We could never be happy.
We look at the future, it bewilders us.
Perhaps there’s some crossroad
of boundary and no boundary.
And perhaps on the floor of a womb
is the knowledge to read the world.
The light knowing the soul is helpless
has made us blind.
We saw only history, not life,
our minds exhausted by broken bodies,
and never a woman to remind us of tenderness.
But in the courtyard was hidden
the softness of a woman bathing,
digging a well beside her
we renewed our fate.
Life is as old as love,
stones hard as love.
Magic will bedew our sleep
and never leave.
I welcome death, a moment’s scream;
and soul, whom I bore and sent into the world,
come, enter my sleep,
come, my soul, bitter in dream,
for the sake of life
whisper to me.
I closed in on myself
with the single eye of an octopus
my body, my land
woke me to pain.
I went to the land of my kin,
they were poor, without hope.
My body and I stood on the deck.
My perception of boundaries
was tested there.
I saw all
beginning and ending in me.
I was as scattered
as the broken body of that land.
Rodos-Symi© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The life of trees /
I will submit
I will make death from shadowless trees,
a death like leaves dying
the heart deep inside.
Leaves are unable to breathe when it rains,
as they start to steam they talk.
They come to my bed
and find me, loneliness.
Loneliness grown old and worn
from a spent life.
If you look at my body’s form
and my hands
they are old,
As though listening to Schubert
I offer myself like a leaf to my lover,
moist a moment ago, and steaming with light.
If you’re in tune with the seasons
you don’t need to breathe.
A tree will enter your sleep
somebody’s eyes will be there,
– perhaps not.
Loneliness like a tree-shadow
slowly giving its veins to the earth,
a reigning tree is invisible.
The leaves of the tree are like my heart,
the silence of my heart in winter.
No voice consoles me.
No gaze from my lover.
Where have you come from, they ask.
From a well, I say,
from a well.
He whispered in my ear
the song of a dark forest,
Looking at the sky for love
at the shadowy softness of branches.
Consoled on the surface of the earth
he never hears the depths.
The tree carried its fruit
from trunk to branch,
what the Journey bestows is Life.
May 1998 Island of Arran, Scotland© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Fish know /
I learned from fish
born in a river,
they never give up
striving to reach the seas.
Birth and death are one.
For the sake of their roots
they know how to return.
The fish family
returning to die
in the river where they were born,
knowing their way,
knowing their worth
I must go
in order to arrive at myself.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The God at the window /
The snail that kisses
my blank-eyed god on his neck
has sucked his blood.
And my god’s become lonely.
My god knows
to be kissed like this means love
and love kills.
My god looks through the window
with his blank eyes,
his dead white eyes.
‘What are you doing?’ he asks.
to hide my face from the god.
My face belongs to him
and his fine hands.
The god with the severed head
who looks at me through my window,
gathering dirt creates his face.
Gathering dirt he learns to look.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
When you bend over a well
when there’s no water
to see your face
Even though water kills you
it kills you on sight.
Beware the waterless well.
The dry hell of thought
And there are footprints
of all who go before.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Earth's dream / Yeryüzünün düşü
In its loneliness the nightsky
Why these stars?
Why this voice humming in my heart of darkness?
When the voices recede
but oppression gnawing at my soul?
If the Pole Star moves one second from its place,
does the fisherman lose his way?
Does the shepherd forget his whistle?
nothing, can alter the truth of me.
I am earth’s dream.
A sleeper ending his sleep
will see when he wakes,
real darkness beyond.© translated by Ruth Christie
Göğün gecesi yalnızken
Bu yıldızlar niçin?
Neden içimin karanlığında uğuldayan bu ses?
Ruhumu kemiren boğuntudan geriye?
Kutup yıldızı yerinden oynasa bir an,
Balıkçı mı şaşırır yolunu,
Çoban mı unutur ıslığını?
Belki de hiçbir şey,
Hiçbir şey hakikatimi değiştirmez.
Yeryüzünün düşüyüm ben
Uykusunu bitiren insan
Asıl karanlık ötede.
To be in the world is pain. / Dünyada olmak acıdır. Öğrendim.
All the red stones on earth are smeared
with blood of the god.
And that’s why red stones
teach our childhood.
When we are children, the god
walks beside us.
He touches our ear-rings
He enters and hides in our shiny shoes
and the folds of our childish ribbon.
I must buy a flame-red dress and bed,
a red ring
There must come a time
when the mother’s time begins and ends.
The blood that knows how to wait,
also knows how to be a stone.
To be in the world is pain –
this I have learned.
and the beginning,
the meaning of these must be
that they never abandon us,
our mother and our god.© translated by Ruth Christie
Yeryüzündeki tüm kızıl taşlara
Tanrının kanı sürülmüştür.
Bu yüzden kızıl taşlar
Tanrı, biz çocukken,
Pabuçlarımıza ve kurdelamızın
Kızçocuk olmak kıvrımına girer
Kızıl bir elbise ve yatak almalıyım,
Kızıl bir yüzük,
O zaman olmalı ki,
Annenin zamanı başlar ve tükenir.
Beklemeyi bilen kan,
Taş olmayı da bilir.
Dünyada olmak acıdır. Öğrendim.
Bir anlamı olmalı ki bunların,
Bırakmaz bizi annemiz ve tanrımız.
Desolate hilltops /
In the rainwashed smell of desolate hilltops
I look at my mother, my father,
as old as the hills, and older.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
In the same lands /
The sun on my left lights up the path of thorns.
Between me and my childhood is death.
I'm on an ancient hilltop, sleepy, stuck between life and death.
My mother shows the dead
to my brother who made the journey
and has become the journey.
They weep together.
I will weep to the sun, to the desolation of these hills.
Beside me a snake stripped of his skin,
I look about with the languor of a blue stone
which can become lapis lazuli if it desires.
Where is my land?
The sun, perhaps.
Always there, my old friend the tortoise
who knows my childhood,
kisses a little girl's cheek and warns her of graves.
Farewell, he says, go back to your mother.
Go and forget creation.
You must forget snake-stories and your friend
who shed his blood looking at the sun.
When lines settle under your eyes
returning to childhood
looking at poppies
in the same lands.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Sons reared by the moon /
They didn't bring us the news
that a bloodstained sleep
would herald a morning of brotherhood.
Your brother returning from a crime
sees over the walls where he hid his shadow.
He washes his hands and leaves you
as a Word in the world.
I buried them in a place
between a silent ceremony and a sigh.
Dead sons. All sacrificed.
As though the world exists to remind them they were sacrificed.
We meet face to face.
Beginning a tremulous lament I say, ‘Enough.
Go, don't kill’,
a laugh was cut off on my lips. This must be a nightmare.
My brother returning from a crime frightens me
and I waken in blood and sweat.
Open your eyes. Dig your nails in the places that hurt.
Is there someone to wipe my breast with a handkerchief?
My brother is returning from a crime, from dark corridors.
His overcoat black,
and his eyes.
I will never
At night our feet were caressed and it was said
we would cross great mountains.
We crossed great mountains guarded by snow.
The first day in the garden we saw three stars clear in a row.
Sure as fate. Blazing a trail.
‘I want to look at your feet’, said a gentle voice.
I didn’t tell them we might not meet again.
All of us knew.
That mountain devoured its sons
and barred them behind a voice.
Some without arms,
some were blind.
Brotherhood only survived in legend.
Brotherhood was compassion.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Vigil for the father /
The father’s coffin is buried last.
He must pass a day and night in his home. And tell his story.
His sons and daughters will have nightmares. This must be.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The return /
The return to the paternal hearth
will be a return to darkness.
Only there does blood grow.
In the very heart of the home . . .
Everything will be remembered.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Decay hidden from God / Çürüme, tanrıdan gizlenen
Streets etched on the earth with a sharp sword,
narrow, no meeting points.
Traces of blood, life leaking away.
Pouring from the memory of an ancient land,
mould enters the walls.
Decay hidden from god.
And the son to be sacrificed, ready.
Instead of the old princes of darkness,
cats remain with their long tails.
The shadow of fountains,
the serrated dagger,
the steel that probes within.
And the dialect surviving from a people,
Every door waits for a neck
to be bowed in submission.© translated by Ruth Christie
Keskin bir kılıçla toprağa çizilmiş
Dar ve kavuşmasız sokaklar.
Kan izi, kaçıyor hayat.
Küf, eski yurdun belleğinden akarak,
Çürüme, tanrıdan gizlenen.
Ve kurban edilecek oğul hazır.
Kediler, eski karanlık prenslerin yerinde,
Uzun kuyruklarıyla duruyorlar.
İçerde ilerleyen çelik.
Ve bir halktan artakalan lehçe,
Her kapı eğilecek bir boynu bekliyor.
Old stars /
The things to be murmured
to the darkness about to enter
the house of death;
You must close your eyes.
You must think there is nothing to see.
You must believe it.
When from the dust of old stars young stars are born,
night moves.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Silent house /
The silent house was waiting in its courtyard.
It thought night was death. And parted from the world.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
One spring /
As spring draws together the straggling bodies of trees,
the tale the leaves tell
will be the death of my friend.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Children's graves / Çocuk mezarlari
So we died.
We slipped away out of darkness.
Beech trees saw us
and tiny stones.
Night and stars passed over us.
We were buried by the roadside.© translated by Ruth Christie
Kayın ağaçları da gördü,
Ufak taşlar da.
Gece ve yıldızlar geçti üzerimizden.
Gömüldük yol kıyısına.
My mother and I /
I searched for a stone lion with my mother. A lost lion.
It was on a hill we both remembered from childhood, we said.
I complied with my mother. Her childhood was old and real
as that lion of stone.
And there the blue eyes of the shepherd lighting a fire spoke to us of sin.
Of how sin shed leaves and broke branches.
‘Your eyes are very weird,’ I told him.
He didn’t understand . . .
In time there were men who dug tunnels to descend into the earth,
thinking those tunnels were the door of the world . . .
The shepherd’s face, peering from the oaktree’s shadow, didn’t scare us
but made us aware . . .
When my mother said, ‘Let me rest in the shadow
of that tree, soon I will die,’ the saint’s tomb moved.
We crossed the river.
Although I knew my mother’s memory was mistaken
I didn’t look back.
While the snake lurking in the child’s grave was sleeping,
the stone lion stayed in the remembered place.
If only my mother had remembered the place, she would not have wished
to remain on that hill and speak with the shepherd as she did.
Earth, for ever ancient earth,
Mother, my mother.
I realised that the snake and the shepherd didn’t care about death;
and that there death joins with primordial death. No blood, no desire, is enough.
As the soul slipped away like a snake enlarging the desert
I counted the darkening veins in my mother’s hands.
Now I must sleep.
The hill of the snake where I went with my mother.
I will not weep . . .© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
At the foot of the great mountain
a basilisk lives.
At the foot of the great mountain death,
insatiable.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
in the ragged voice of a shepherd
grips us in the mountains.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Talking with God /
I saw Allah. He was waiting in a hollowed-out tank.
I entered the darkness of his soul and sat down.
Allah woke up in a mountain lake.
He turned his languid head and looked around.
How beautiful the world!
He went back to sleep. His heart can’t stand it.
Heartless. And we his left-over lava,
ruffle the wave.
Stirring the lake with a troubled stone
we fill it with our sorrow.
Allah woke up in a mountain lake.
‘Go’ he said. ‘Remove your people from my land.’
I saw him. He looked at me with a long expectant look.
Houses hid the dead. Trees moved.
Troubled . . .
He is not the creator and still there is no earth.
When he wakens from that sleep in the lake
and opens his eyes wide,
a glacier will slide into the world’s darkness.
And no human will be waiting there.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The Mediterranean /
(To Antonio, singer of Sard songs)
Children confined in a womb,
hidden in the islands,
reminders of the cruelty of mother and god.
All are lame and shy.
They turn their backs, drink wine
till they choke, and still
they believe in the old god.
Are these bodies like its stones?
Beauty polished and carved
but left with a broken arm.
Beauty in a well-known place of love
thinks of the world subdued by her broken arm.
The old sea
with its decadent sons
never questions them
or brings them to life.
There only the stones are alive
and always new cruelties.
So the mother who kept her children in the dark
and ate them, is never forgotten.
When salt waters touch the heart and fail to burn,
will be forgotten.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
There time waits for the desert.
The clack of Spanish heels and weeping.
Everything accepts what will be.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The voice of forgiveness /
It was long, long ago.
I saw a woman plunging the tarnished silver in her palm
in the waters.
Her feet bare,
she spoke of her forefathers,
of returning to water,
of hiding being.
She returned to water.
And left the voice of forgiveness to God.
And still the desolate earth
Rabat July 2001© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
I talked with them at a table
covered in black, a bride adorned for death.
A poet passed us like a thief. His body a flight of words.
I looked at the poets. Each walking a shadow
like taking a dog for a walk.
Words will never fill up our pain.
Casablanca / July 2001© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The glacier / Buzul
For thousands of years I lay dead, turned to ice in that lake.
You woke me.
I woke and found my sleep in the mist of a forest blighted with fire.
My body clung to night.
Whiteness flowed into my skin from a glacier's deep light
and reminded me
You walked in that lake
leaving tracks and skin.© translated by Ruth Christie
O gölde buzlarla çevrilmiş, binlerce yıldır ölüydüm.
Uyandım ve yanmış bir ormanın sisinde buldum uykumu.
Geceye yapıştı gövdem.
Bir buzulun derin ışığından tene akan beyazlık
O gölde yürüdün sen.
Ten ve iz bırakarak.
Creation / Yaradılış
Listen and look, mountains rise into being.
Underground rivers shrink
to sluggish inner blood.
A lapis-blue vein
atoms of dust.
Perhaps only a wind knows earth.
The wind touches trees and humans and dies away.© translated by Ruth Christie
Dinle bak, dağlar oluşuyor.
Yer altı nehirleri çekiliyor
İçinin pıhtılaşmış kanına.
Lapis bir damar
Belki bir rüzgâr tanıyor yeryüzünü.
Ağaçlara ve insana dokunup ölüyor rüzgâr.
Every woman knows her own tree / Her kadın kendi ağacını tanır
When I came to you
I was going to open my wings
over that deserted city
built of black stones,
and find a tree and perch on its branches
and shout with pain.
Every woman knows her own tree.
That night I flew.
I passed over the city that darkness feared to enter.
Having no shadow the soul
I howled like a dog.© translated by Ruth Christie
Siyah taşlarla örülmüş
O ıssız şehrin üzerinde açacak,
Bulduğum bir ağacın dallarına tüneyecek
Ve acıyla bağıracaktım.
Her kadın kendi ağacını tanır.
Uçtum o gece.
Karanlığın girmeye korktuğu şehri geçtim.
Gölge olmayınca ruh yalnızdı. Uludum.
Passing love by
with him I joined the dusty coupling of flowers.
As I veered between soul and the senses, my heart deterred me.
I turned to earth,
to rain and wind,
to the death of my friend.
I have no hope of meaning from the bones.
I have no search for essence.
The death of my friend has made me forget decay.
It brought me sorrow,
always there.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Black rain / Kara bir yağmur
Cover me up.
Let me change my shell,
like day, like birds of the morning.
While a black rain falls.© translated by Ruth Christie
Gün gibi, kuşları gibi sabahın.
Kara bir yağmur yağarken.
Night spent in the temple of a patient God / Sabır tanrısının tapinağinda konaklama
You chose your exile among rainswept mountains.
Where you lingered last night
was the home of the patient god
the home where a human is equipped with compassion.
No need for temples, I said.
This is simply a place.
The human soul must surely be a temple.
And rain the river of homelessness
reminds us of god and childhood.
You chose your exile among rainswept mountains.
The beauty of making mistakes
and the peace of pain.
Everything led you to emptiness.
And you, you looked at the pale flowers of patience and wept.
You slept in his arms as though nothing existed.
There shall be a journey made to the mountain and exile chosen.
And a human wanted from god.
We must listen again to that music.
That place was not meant for loving.© translated by Ruth Christie
Yağmurlu dağların arasından gurbetini seçtin.
Son gece beklediğin yer
Sabır tanrısının eviydi.
İnsanı merhametle donatmanın evi.
Tapınaklara gerek yok dedim.
Burası sadece bir yer.
İnsanın ruhu tapınak kılınmalı.
Ve yağmur, yersizliğin nehri.
Tanrıdan ve çocukluktan hatırlanan
Yağmurlu dağların arasından gurbetini seçtin.
Ve huzuru acının.
Her şey seni bir boşluğa uladı.
Ve sen, sarı sabır çiçeklerine bakıp ağladın.
Onun koynunda yokmuş gibi uyudun.
Bir dağa gidilecek, gurbet seçilecek.
Ve insan istenecek tanrıdan.
Tekrar dinlemeli o müziği.
Sevişmenin tamamlanmadığı o yer.
When I found him
I was waiting, a knife in my heart.
A poppy in my mouth
I showed him my pain.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
A soul growing cold / Bir ruhun soğumasi
I crossed a great cosmos in his sea
I showed him the soul beginning from a shadow.
What was thought to be blood-filled sea and earth was emptiness.
In emptiness the world stirring.
Now I am wingless.
Waves have sucked up the blood that flowed from a cut.
I will show him a soul growing cold.
And sleep in darkness,
not waiting for a mother
or to become a child.© translated by Ruth Christie
Büyük bir kâinatı geçtim denizinde ben.
Ona, bir gölgeden başlayarak oluşan ruhu gösterdim.
Kanlı bir deniz ve yeryüzü sanılan boşluk.
Boşlukta kımıldayan dünya.
Kesik yerinden damlayan kanı, dalgalar emdi.
Ona bir ruhun soğumasını göstereceğim.
Çocuk olmayı ve anneyi beklemeden karanlıkta uyumayı.
In the north /
The glacier is melting.
I feel parts of me stir
colliding with great rocks.
In the sea of being they stand harmonious,
each part shedding light on its outline.
There's no geometry in the perception of being any more.
Everything develops its own shape.
Everything seeks its own completeness.
You are a cold sun.
A cold sun
in the north, on bleak lonely hillcrests shrouded in mist.
The glacier is melting.
As my body shrinks I feel your smile is love.
In the north, in the harsh tundra climate
a wounded creature's bloodshot eyes.
Changing.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Garden of blood /
I left him in the garden of blood till morning,
till the day of birth, the breast and milk.
Sturdy rocks, buried deep in the earth, how they bear up their heads.
On secret wings a wild bird comes, on wings it never opens.
A human cannot remember what an ancient soul remembers.
He is loneliness.
The word of desire hung on love's shadowless tree.
Silent. Without blood.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The sleep of the world has fled /
He told me to weep, in the valley where I bent in silence.
If I wept I would forget, I would not dance with shadows.
Gently touch a wild blackberry thorn but pass by,
don’t stay, he told me.
I leaned over the marble vessel empty of water.
I asked if the eyes on the wall were of stone or not.
Leave me, I said.
We should go to the lake,
if the stones cut our feet, we should swim.
At last you were granted your hopes from the stars.
But from now on you’re without love or hope.
Enter the lake. Look at the dwindling light on the wall. Learn about sin.
We must search for the blackberry in the forest.
Sunrise. The sleep of the world has fled.
Lodeve / July / 2000© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Dead sun / Ölü bir güneş
I dug night
from the flesh of a dead sun
and entered it in my heart.© translated by Ruth Christie
Ölmüş bir güneşin teninden kazıyıp
Night spread over me a blanket of quicksilver.
Nothing was heavier than my heart.
And I understood.
It was Time who had power over all,
not God.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
The well of love /
You fell into the well of love
which had traces of hand and heart
on its wall.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
Stones too need loneliness.
And olive trees
and the inside of houses where dark shadows lurk.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
In his desert /
I went to his desert.
I am a guest
in the bloodclot on the wall.
The vein he found summoned me.
And my soul was bathed in old blood.
I became enslaved by his desert, I settled in his tent.
The meeting of an ancient tribe and ritual.
Perched on the bank like a wild bird
He told me 'you are death'
sure as fate.
Night stirs in his desert.
And the darkness of snake and scorpion.
Life hides in a poison
and patiently grows.
He abandoned me.
I'll look at the fish
in the red desert waters,
I’ll hold my breath
Every night in his desert
I whispered to the sands.
I asked how they created the desert,
breast to breast without choking.
I am dead in his desert.
Come, prepare me for burial.
Lingering as a shadow
touching the clouds on his path.
He will rouse me with the noise of imploring
and blood-cursed deception.
I grumbled to god.
His being in such a cruel body.
When beauty meets pain it grows tired
and looks with the light of an eye always old;
every face is a sign from god.
When an old man said this
he had no eyes.
But my mother so believed him
that she drew grief on my face,
and holding it out to god
my mother has been born again,
my mother has returned to my ‘being’.
Night stood before me with a rusty cage
I begged god for time to pray,
for the dream
the nothingness promised to his being.
I cried out loud
with the pain that pierced my spellbound heart.
Let others pray in other tongues. For us.
Let them bless us because we are silent and know death.
Like a dead leaf dragged in the wind
my body had nowhere to be.
Existence hid in a seed in heavy sleep
in heavy desire.
Red blood-clot. Lace morning. Cover me up.
how god drew the dark power of your face,
and what he hid in the curve of your laugh.
In the desert shrouded in lace I wait for my death. I am at peace.
Here is a night that never was.
In the morning we'll wake up and talk love.
He will tell me how long it lasted.
How long life lasted.
On the morning of that long day
I heard the sound of day and night coming together.
They softly met and between them
a web of lace was woven.
Sleep your heavy sleep
stay under the stones with your water-thirst.
The weight of doors closed at night in a spacious courtyard.
The wind claws at your door
Love is far distant
Strange that you didn’t believe.
You touched my back and were surprised that the lines
shining in moonlight were of innocence, relic of pain.
You said you would go
I didn't believe you.
But I knew before I was born.
This is a body that dallies in an embittered soul
in the bed of a pure and childlike dream.
The flesh that rests with blood and silence accepts.
In your white lace bed you left an eye of glass beside me
When he left
the essence of love, words whispered to him,
I lie white and still
on the surface of the sky.
I came from the bed of waiting
pierced with an arrow of grief
a black stone within.
I saw the horses
Someone sitting before the gates, words,
and life a lifelong scream.
From where a secret was never revealed to me
I asked him
What will you tell me?
What did the desert never tell?
With the burden that held my soul there
my body cursed the night
and never again
did my being summon the desert.
I turn to the mirror
my eyes have changed.
The woman who looked at sands in the desert
now looks at fate
I am that woman.
I saw the lines of your palms
the desert told me all.
I realised where love ended
and why my body waking in your bloodstained room
had no place in my being.
I leave you to the shadowy loneliness of leaves,
to the breath that wakes at dawn
to the pleading line of the eyes that turn to you.
What you took from the desert
give back to the desert.
What you took from life
restore to life.
I will wait no more,
Behind is a world
created by range upon range of hilltops,
like a promise of nothingness.
Nothing and shadows.
Night lace and absence.
Restore to the desert
what you took from the desert
Restore to life
what you took from life.
In memory of Deniz Bilgi who named her last unfinished picture© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie
‘From Deep in the Forest’
And partly too because of an unhappy love affair never confided to Deniz.
From deep in the forest /
I approached the forest
with the eyes and steps of a savage.
I would sleep by him under a tree
and be reborn,
in pain and light becoming part of the forest.
Here are his tracks
like life that heals
when we're exiled to the forest and look at a tree.
Now, at the moment of calm when a sea is first created
my mind clings to its childhood
and the wish to separate sky from light.
The sea stirs. It’s love. The body’s desire for the mother.
I return to the mountains. When deer doomed to be shot
go down to the water to drink
how they will look at the world.
When the trigger is pulled
how the body will quiver.
The crab’s clumsy claws struggling out of the sea.
His hands without pity.
Now autumn must waken my mind
and seal my love-chest.
Sleeping in the attic
I looked at the ceiling and wept.
Thinking the world was asleep
thinking everything was asleep
At night I heard a voice from wings touching the candle-flame,
"The deep heart of the forest is you; when you reach it, no one
will be there.
Only silence and the claims of life," it said.
I shivered - and turned, he was sleeping.
Everything aimed at
a wound in the future.
comes to an end in infinity.
Silence was tested in love, kept waiting in a room of sleep.
Dawn was announced to the world in joyful whispers,
and awoke the forest. Human hope hid in the forest.
And they said:
For those who turn their back on the world
the only shelter is the forest.
If only he could have seen what the trees saw.
Every morning first wakening the tree
he found me under that tree.
Whoever draws the knife
will renew his belief.
Who will first smell the sheath?
Leather and mother-of-pearl.
He was describing the hunt in my dream.
He was describing the hunt in a forest.
He had knives and hunting garments.
Not to kill, he explained
but to track
I leant on his shoulder.
Summer passes and I have a picture of him:
you are a wish to be lost in a forest,
revenge for growing up with a lie,
for hopes unfulfilled.
Life hit me over the head
with love in a crazy shirt.
I ran and lost my god.
‘God develops’. In everyone's body grows one
who sees himself as god.
Run in your forest. Look at the trees and weep. Rain falls
and a hand is squeezing my heart . . .
There is tumult within him.
As though I had consumed silence.
Silence sleeps in me and wakens.
For me too grow a tree.
The first night I woke to an uproar.
He made me listen to the wingbeats of birds perching in the trees.
Sleep on my breast, he said.
Don't be afraid.
It was only the sound of bird-wings.
Birds come to his whistle,
splitting the branches to find a perch.
The blue window means danger.
I remembered the wind back then
like a life I escaped from.
And I was afraid of the well.
'Let's go to the forest', I said,
‘let's look at the trees and weep.
Perhaps we can lie beneath a tree and be reborn.'
And I was born.
He gave me birth in the forest . . .
and left me.
Desire touched my soul and was healed,
my body shrank, and opened to pain.
I saw the wings of evil flying towards me.
It’s a lie that nature is dumb and violent.
When he leant me against a tree and held my face
love was greater than he.
In the likeness of a tree, I approached a tree.
It told me of the stubbornness of trees
that cling to valleys
and spread to mountains.
What is taken from the mountain and returns to the mountain
will not be his.
I walked deep among your darlings. In the silent land of trees,
treading in the smeared tracks of savages.
Squeezing a rose-petal in my palm I looked down the well
and felt the smell of the love-bolt.
The evil ill-omened snake returning to shed its poison in your bed.
‘Listen,’ I said, ‘these sounds have been here for a thousand years,
this forest, this sea,
you, and your wish to be transformed
to goodness . . .’
The world sheltered in a heart and waited to be caressed.
But the exhausted mind was abandoned to darkness.
The spreading of pain that keeps unfolding in a snake’s glitter.
The god chose us,
and gave us love
so we might feel his loneliness.
At night he looked at me with the dark face of the forest.
The eagle-owl understood
and sank his beak in his own heart.
He wanted his screeches to explain.
No one there . . . No one there . . . don't stay.
Like a bare tree I'm near to winter.
He woke me in a lake
And kissing my left shoulder
showed me the sun.
droplets swimming with water-lilies.
Everything was renewed.
The heart can be deceived. A fool.
And I was hurt.
Wind stirs the branches,
madness, the death-wish.
The trunk as it yellows its leaves,
sees in the lake-mirror.
I am waiting to fall.
A kiss on my neck, I’ll be left in the winter forest.
Love rises from the trees.
In me there is no fine flutter of veins,
In the wrong land, I don’t go far.
Nature's need to exist.
Stones, wild flowers,
they seem to ignore
but how much they watch over each other.
I leave everything
Snow will fall
the death of my friend will be
the black shawl round my shoulders.
The dream begins with Deniz withdrawing.
In the dream a great garden,
and earth that smells of sleep in the garden.
I shall fix my eyes on the forest
and patience growing in my blood
will finally end.
Night saw it all.
Blood receding from the body,
the shrinking of the loins.
Whatever there was to murmur, was murmured to the moon.
I was left with a knife in my heart.
I look at leaves,
at my soul spoiled by the bitter taste in my mouth.
O deep gloomy desire whispered perhaps by the waters,
tread on the heart's dark stones, pass by on the other side.
People come into our lives and quietly leave.
Like a place slipping away
or perhaps like a tree stretching its branches.
When a deer is shot the body shudders
it is beauty’s desire to live.
Darkness carries our destiny
and makes us feel.
If a phoenix appears in the coffee-grounds
it’s a sign of rebirth. How I wish!
But rebirth will not happen.
Winter and a dark desire.
Snow falls, a cheetah's bones
melt in the ice.
She is in the forest now. Searching for flowers
with her kaleidoscopic gift of a wide-open eye.
I touched the empty amulet round my neck,
the pride and ruin within the word's belly.
If she had returned
I would have shown her branches transformed into bodies.
Language and soul were sisters.
Now you will go.
Love’s fragrance left there.
Love will sleep in your dark-red bed.
When you open your door old love will welcome you.
A love left behind.
Whoever drew the knife renewed his belief
in people and god
Whoever drew the knife counted himself as nothing
in the sheath.
Love passes, great memories remain.
Awaited in the shadow of a tree ,
far beyond spring it never comes.
With the tremor of error in my body
When I first saw him, his eyes were in darkness.
Two wells and a wall’s shadow fell on a forehead .
That was all.
In that forest I first approached
you taught me loss.© Bejan Matur, translated by Ruth Christie