to hide here and kiss a beloved is not sin enough

translated by Aron Aji

the human soul is a dark place, leviathan.

so much that my eyes begrudge the light.

I sense the dark upsurge. I can’t find a hole large enough, can’t live on level ground.

at the old bookshop I stopped by this afternoon, I found on top of a cabinet a little french book about paul cézanne. I showed it to the man standing by the door and asked, how much. a rare work, he said, antique, hard to come by. I know that, I said, but how much. thirty liras, he said. I cursed the man who priced rareness at thirty liras. 

the human soul is contemptible, leviathan. you better hang in my dark face. just like this. one day, when I leave this place, I’ll want to kiss you. believe me: neither luke nor john will record my deeds.

Translation from the Turkish

Merve Çanak was born in 1994 and grew up in Istanbul. She studied English language and literature at Yeditepe University and published her first poetry book, Hiçölüm, in 2018. She has worked at Norgunk Publishing House as an editor and is passionate about avant-garde and experimental writing.

Aron Aji is director of the literary translation MFA program at the University of Iowa and past president of the American Literary Translators Association. A native of Turkey, his translations include three book-length works by Bilge Karasu. Aji’s co-translation (with David Gramling) of Murathan Mungan’s Valor (Northwestern, 2021) received the 2020 Global Humanities Translation Prize. Aji’s translation of Ferid Edgu’s The Wounded Age and Eastern Tales (NYRB) is forthcoming in 2022.