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This poem is taken from PN Review 120, Volume 24 Number 4, March - April 1998.

Eleven Poems Oktay Rifat

Translated by Christopher Middleton

How the Poem Comes

She comes from the table of foam,
naked, green she brings
from the deep, yellow with mud she comes
dragging dead sea birds to the coffee house
where divers drink, comes
like a cut-throat wind from the south,

She comes breaking her maidenhood
with a speed of thought and dizzying, comes
tired, cupping her hands to beggar folk
with the strangled cry of a halfwit.

The Traces


Mind blank in the thick of things
perhaps can start when water slides away
from water, to revert

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