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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

of home.

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

keep going

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,

would never

feel alone evermore.