Literal Translation by Maureen Freely and Özge Çallı Spike

Knowingly Willingly

Literal translation by Maureen Freely and Özge Calli Spike




There was madness those shadows, I tasted it

Even if I didn’t say I did, it wouldn’t mean I hadn’t


Darling, never take me to that house at night

Especially not to that house, not at night most especially


Open up my hope chest, burn my garden, send me away

The country girl in me is not accustomed to large rooms


Passing on each to you one by one

Through the coils of time.


My darling, forgive me at night, most especially at nights

Let that hungry crowd feast on my dance


My body is a gun made of sorrow

Don’t think it can’t fire on you


Don’t try to surprise me into a trap

What you call home is nothing next to the one I fled


My darling, those long tables, those elegant halls

My darling, protect me from those mornings


Pass through the reeds of the dead, and through your mother’s cheek[1]

For what could a girl with runs in her stocking know about mornings?




My darling – listen to me at nights, especially at nights

How else could I loosen these words from my tongue


Sour, prickly strands of sound

My voice is nothing like that


My darling, lay me down a night on a bed of wine

Make carvings from your fears, distill your poverty


Tell my story to the freesias, and the jasmines

And most of all, to the whirling dervishes, especially at night




My darling, see the world in me, take the grape and strip it of its skin

The spinning compass[2] need not concern us


Forget the pain I ceaselessly inflict on you

Let it stay where it is, far away, and fading


An apple, a catcall[3] at the end of a street

I am the laughter exploding in your ear


My darling, you passed through my voice with the water

The thing you just dropped did not fall from your pocket


Waiting longer than a vase standing still

I gather more dust


The meaning can be found in the unfastening of a button

It’s words that kill all those they hit


My darling, bend towards me just a little, look at me

You nestle up to me, but you left long ago


Even water lacks the time to flow with me

So you see? No one will come for those who wait at night, to carry them into morning


[1] The mother’s cheek implies a sort of virtue that is utterly lacking in the slatternly girl with runs in her stockings

[2] a light reference to Rumi here – the compass with two arms, one static, one tracing the circle –  but Gonca keen NOT to foreground religion. More literally: the spinning of the compass is not one of us

[3] literally – become an apple at the mouth of the street, but in Turkish the same words (mouth of the street)=vulgar/street language