Fahriye Abla*

The acrid smell of coal filled the air,
Before sunset  doors closed.
From the street of laudanum languor,
Only you stayed in my imagination, only you!
Your unblemished neck, your teeth,
At the vast luminosity of their dreams, the smile in your eyes.
You were our beautiful neighbour, Fahriye abla!

A small box, your house,
Its balcony evergreen;
Before sunset,
Its shadow washed in a secluded stream.
At the window in summer and winter, a green pot of rose geraniums;
In spring in your garden, the blossom of locust trees.
You were our lovely neighbour, Fahriye abla!

Your hair was very long, then short;
You had olive skin, you were tall.
Full of bracelets, your wrists
Thrilled all men.
Winds blew open your skirt;
Baudy songs you usually sang.
You were our flirtatious neighbour, Fahriye abla!

Your heart, they said, you’d given to a young man,
Someone from Erzincan, you married in the end.
I wonder, are you with him still;
With its snowy mountains, still in Erzincan?
Let my heart remember the old days;
What’s in the memory, time doesn’t change.
You were my true neighbour, Fahriye abla!

Ahmet Muhip Dranas (1908-1980). Fahriye Abla. Translated from the Turkish.

*“Abla”(elder sister) is also an informal term of address for an older woman.

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