Akdeniz: Turkish for the Mediterranean. Translates to the “White Sea.”
you are 8 years-old. Innocence means nothing
yet. You swim bare-bottomed; you are afraid
of girls. You want to grow up to be
just like dad, and your favourite colour is just
Last week your father, hoarse, defeated, spoke
of leaving, at last, for good. Whispered sickly
in mother’s ear – her hair, waves of sand, softer
than the look in her eyes, the look you can’t
recognise; softer than her torn, work-worn
hands. Murmured a word more giant than you
could ever have fathomed. Deep down you
knew it meant time here was up. Pale, it rose
in your belly, then, the feeling that you’d be
missing, somehow, the rubble and the blaze
Recall: you wake up in the middle
of the night to leave for the dock. You,
on father’s back – he was sweaty and jittering
from the walk; you felt his chill run deeper, run
through you, through your scrawny arms clasped
around his neck – your little sister nuzzled
in mother’s quivering chest. A drop, aged
two. It’s strange, dad and mum were seldom
so confluent, and blue: to think that it took until now
for them to see eye to dark eye.
Understand this: you couldn’t have taken
anything; there was nothing left to take.
The lights had gone out before you lost the TV –
mother’s eyes followed soon after.
The little boat is overflowing. The only
sounds: the crying babies, and the rest crying to
god. Protect us, protect us afloat in this shell. The little
ones are loud but their tears are lost in salt spray
and you’re trying awfully hard to be grown-up. Mother
had told you that you were meant to
no matter what. With or without her, to be a big
brother to your sister, to be brave.
Still, now, what you couldn't have imagined was
that the sea would be so awash with brothers and sisters, that you, children,
feel alone evermore.