Lucy Durneen

Art: The Forbidden Room


It’s 02 January 2016.
I’m writing this for future reference
——It is a small thing, but there will be a time when it
seems impossible this date was once the
present.

I thought it hardly worth remembering snow
on the roof of a Småland church
beside the road to Stockholm
the quiet of it like a mute sea
but on the bus to the airport I was reading you Nâzim,
so I noticed
and now I am afraid of forgetting it
—–I am not a person who has much faith in anything
even memory

———–I didn’t know poplars were Turkish
Poplars are the English Fens
where I was born
in a city whose cathedral they called a ship
Beyond lines of poplar I sailed from one waterland into another
I wonder if this is why sometimes I taste salt for no reason.

 —–I am afraid of forgetting so many things
—–for instance, leaning out of the window to hear La Cumparsita
from the café on the corner of
Rosenthaler and Weinmeißter Straße
——I want to call those Berlin nights voluptuous
but this was when I had stopped loving
voluptuousness
——It was here I lost my wallet once
The man who found it told me to collect it from an
——-apartment in Kreuzberg
————————–and I did and
————————–at the doorstep he
————————–asked me to come inside
————————–and I did that too
————————–and while I was waiting
————————–the front door closed and the thing that happened
————————–next is the
—————————————-thing women are always afraid will happen
—–There is nothing wrong with comparing nightfall to a bird, Nâzim
————–it is exactly the right way to describe
the slow, feathered sinking of darkness

Before the Nazis, before the Soviet patrols
—–Brecht would walk along this street to
his house near the Spree
to one lover or another, whistling Tumbalalaika
with his hand in his pocket and the stage
in his head
—————“…War is like love,
—————it always finds a way…”

Two things we will never stop writing about: love and
——–war
At times like this you see it’s true
the one who loves less is always
loved most
————It is such a small thing, but I am always using words
whose meanings I have not lived
I have a problem with nouns that mix Greek
and Latin roots, for example
but not everything has to be named
—————By the way I want to ask
the precise word for the candlelight in the Katarina Kyrka
the way you would describe
the tiny lanterns of the dead in
its churchyard
——-the shudder of flames beside snow
I wonder how you would put it
———–Sometimes it takes the tail lights of a Volvo to understand
all the things you have lost
There was someone who could quote Selimović
There was someone who stole pens
Aziz survived genocide
I thought I loved tea, but I wasn’t drinking
-it the Turkish way then
—So many beautiful untold stories
and my heart a storm inside
them all.

——–Sometimes we cannot write because we are too busy being alive
It’s good to remember this
—————-especially when you see yourself in a dark window
on a train, perhaps,
when you think this is who I am
and yet you cannot touch this person
or you will break the illusion
—–the charm.

There is a man I knew
in old Istanbul
full of stories that brew in him like tea
in a glass pot
I am thinking of him now on the bus to Arlanda
——I have never been to Kadıköy
I have never seen the Sea of Marmara, so I have no idea how blue
he was talking
I have no idea how blue.
——It was a small thing made bigger in translation
——————————–Okyanus gözlüm
——————————–My ocean-eyed

——“I was never so close to anyone in my life,” you
said, Nâzim, and you were thinking of Vera on
the road to the Crimea

——–Like objects in a rear view mirror
I didn’t know how close
What I am saying is: when you go to these seas you
do not think about the dangers

———I thought maybe I would forget the time Ljilja drove me through
Vienna in the dark
through the famous woods to
the Kahlenberg and the view that is
exactly as everyone imagines
———-Seven ascending miles in a small French car for
the view of the Blue Danube
Ljilja’s Donav

—————–Blue is the light of distance
—————–The edge of the spectrum that longs for but
—————–doesn’t quite reach earth
————————The world in
—————————————cyanotype, the stars

——————Nâzim, you wondered about them

————–Emerson said if we only saw the night sky once in our lives
-we’d never stop talking about it
-that we tire of the miraculous
———–but I haven’t yet.

There were six of us in the car
in our dinner clothes, my tight red dress
——Aziz by the window
“I was never so close to anyone in my life”
——I was thinking of the city he had left
the war inside it
——-Ljilja would only take the skinny ones, she said
which meant we didn’t all get to see
the plaster-pale skin of the church and the broken moon
and that blue-midnight telescoping river
stumbling to Sulina
——-more beauty than I could bear

——————-This was before I knew about Yakamoz, so who is to say I had ever experienced beauty

—-or if I did it was the way a bird would experience
it, yes like night falling
when everything seems less than it really is
as if from a distance, or exiled
——-even love
can be this way sometimes
I remember now how the edges of the world
are no longer blue when you arrive there

——But the most beautiful word in
the world translates as the reflection of the full moon
on the sea on a bright and
cold night without any waves

—-which proves the most beautiful things are not so far away

————————–Memory, for example
which is only ever the space between things
I was thinking of how even constellations and iambs
are things I could have loved
or certain arrangements of notes on a clarinet,
a particular use of adverbs
It’s impossible to believe anyone could ever get tired of this,
but once is never enough

——Nâzim, it is not enough to know
the things you love
—–to name the stars
you want others to name them too.
I am worn out with desire
—–It is not a small thing, to give a person a book
————-Something large and expanding pushed
————-deep into the dark machinery of
————-the heart.

——————–There was a ballerina who danced for a dying man on New Year’s Eve
Each pirouette a sigh for the living world
———-a waltz into the blue
———-And when she was asked why
Why would you do this?
Such a small thing, on this night of all nights
——She said, because there are no small things

no thing means nothing
no word is too small
no space in the world too small

There are children spinning through the gyres
of the Aegean

The measure of freedom is in what we can run away from

————-But the borders are closing soon

I arrived too late
and now the snow above Arlanda falls heavy and the planes,
——-the soaring planes like tired birds
have suddenly nowhere to go.


Lucy Durneen is a writer and Co-Editor of the literary journal Short Fiction, based in the South West of England. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in Poetry Ireland ReviewTwo Thirds North, Litro and The Manchester Review amongst other places, and her Creative Non-Fiction has been published in World Literature Today, nominated for a Pushcart Prize and recorded for broadcast on BBC radio. Her first short story collection is to be published in late 2016.

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