The Evening Walk


You no sooner got out of prison
than you made your wife
            pregnant;
she's on your arm,
            and you're out for an evening walk around the neighborhood.
The lady's belly comes up to her nose.
She carries her sacred charge coyly.
You're respectful and proud.
The air is cool
–cool like baby hands.
You'd like to take it in your palms
            and warm it up.
The neighborhood cats are at the butcher's door,
and upstairs his curly wife
has settled her breasts on the window ledge
            and is watching the evening.
Half-light, spotless sky:
smack in the middle sits the evening star,
            sparkling like a glass of water.
Indian summer lasted long this year–
the mulberry trees are yellow,
                  but the figs are still green.
Refik the typesetter and the milkman Yorgi's middle daughter
            have gone out for an evening stroll,
            their fingers locked.
The grocer Karabet's lights are on.
This Armenian citizen has not forgiven
            the slaughter of his father in the Kurdish mountains.
But he loves you,
because you also won't forgive
            those who blackened the name of the Turkish people.
The tuberculars of the neighborhood and the bedridden
            look out form behind the glass.
The washwoman Huriye's unemployed son
                  weighed down by his sadness
                              goes off to the coffeehouse.
Rahmi Bey's radio is giving the news:
in a country in the Far East,
moon-faced yellow people
            are fighting a white dragon.
Of your people,
            four thousand five hundred Mehmets
                  Have been sent there to murder their brothers.
You blush
            with rage and shame
and not in general either–
      this impotent grief
      is all yours.
It's as if they'd knocked your wife down from behind
                                    and killed her child,
or as if you were back in jail
and they were making the peasant guards
                                          beat the peasants again.
All of a sudden it's night.
The evening walk is over.
A police jeep turned into your street,
your wife whispered:
                        "To our house?"



                       Turkish; trans. Randy Blasing & Mutlu Konuk


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