About Mount Uludag


For seven years now Uludag and I have been staring each other in the eye.
It hasn't moved an inch,
            and neither have I,
yet we know each other well.
Like all living things, it knows how to laugh and how to get mad.

Sometimes,
      in winter, especially at night,
                  when the wind blows from the south,
with its snowy forests, plateaus, and frozen lakes
                  it turns over in its sleep,
and the Old Man who lives way up there at the very top–
            his long beard flying,
                        skirts billowing–
      rides howling on the wind down into the valley . . .

Then sometimes,
      especially in May, at sunup,
      it rises like a brand-new world–
            huge, blue, vast,
            free and happy.
Then there are days
      when it looks like its picture on the pop bottles.
And then I understand that in its hotel I can't see
      lady skiers sipping cognac
      and flirting with gentlemen skiers.

And the day comes
when one of its beetle-browed mountain folk, having
butchered his neighbor at the altar of sacred property,
            comes to us as a guest in his yellow homespun trousers
                  to do fifteen years in cellblock 71.


                            Turkish; trans. Randy Blasing & Mutlu Konuk


Nazim Hikmet, Turkish, trans. Randy Blasing & Mutlu Konuk, Poems of Nazim Hikmet, Persea Books, 1994.