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From The Wounded Age and Eastern Tales, which was published in January by New York Review Books. Translated from the Turkish.

On this mountain where God left you all alone, by yourself, what dreams visit you?

Do you remember your childhood?

By the sea, there you are, in your trunks, under the scalding August sun, walking into the water, the pebbled seabed, without a whereto, mussels cutting into your soft soles, you dive in, your first breaststrokes, you’re almost swimming, the panic when your feet can’t touch the pebbles, your arms flailing, the clumsy strokes to get back to the shallow, bobbing and sinking, the seawater taste in your throat, the coughs, the panic you try to conceal, then (months later) the rainfall, the floodwaters, the metal shards and coins you look for along the riverbeds (with your friends), then the snowfall, the endless snowfall, the walk to school, the steaming cup of salep and the buttered poğaça, the walk back from school, sledding downhill, on your wooden satchel, then home, the slaps you receive, while wetting your pants, how you wish you were dead, how you wish you were not of this world.

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February 2023

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