Birhan Keskin

Translated from the Turkish by Öykü Tekten


you encountered my face first, i’m the oldest here,
the belly of the world. the world’s pain is in me.
i’m sand and rock.
i’m the knowledge of solitude, of silence.
i’m the grand plan of standing still and remaining.
i’ve seen it all, all. the flow of water, the flowering of trees.
i’ve seen it all, time and again, will see it more. the grand hour is me.
the seas, the waves beat me, the rough winds made my peaks home. 
i was broken, unraveled, crumbled away
i turned around, stitched myself back together
if you break open and look at it, the whole world is in every speck of me.
i’ve carried stones, my soul is wearier than i, my tongue a long echo. 
i’m the oldest here.

estradiol 5.8

i grew less, the water in me ran thin.
my sentence doesn’t green.
and yet
i’m your somebody, you’re the muse.
i believed in this, fell asleep,
woke up, remained with it.
why is my soul bleeding inside the pomegranate?

high consistency

i lost the mountains behind me, the seas in my horizon,
the animals i slept and woke up with.
it was as if the main river flowing out of me halted,
i lived as if nothing. i laughed for the last time
with a joyous spirit passing through the world.

green grass touched my feet, a sky with white clouds
walked above me. between the two i slept.
all this is now a mournful sentence in a romani song.

Birhan Keskin was born in Kırklareli, Turkey. She graduated from Istanbul University in 1986 with a degree in sociology. Her first poems began to appear in 1984. From 1995 to 1998 she was joint editor of the small magazine Göçebe. She has since worked as an editor for a number of prominent publishing houses in Istanbul. She has authored nine books of poetry since 1991. Birhan Keskin was the 2005 winner of Turkey’s prestigious Golden Orange Award for Ba. Her Soğuk Kazı won the Metin Altıok poetry prize in 2016.

Öykü Tekten is a poet, translator, archivist, and editor. She is also a founding member of Pinsapo, an art and publishing experience with a particular focus on work in and about translation, and a contributing editor and archivist with Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative. Her work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Magazine, Words Without Borders and Gazete Duvar, among other places. She is the creator and general editor of the forthcoming Kurdish Poetry Chapbook Series by Pinsapo Press.

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