Tag Archives: mothers

Mothers’ Day 2013, or, A Celebration of Life and Death

Today, I invite you to a special celebration.  A celebration of life and death in love.  I have compiled some of my old and new poems in commemoration of two remarkable mothers who lost their lives to cancer, each within one year after they had been diagnosed for another illness.  My mother, who died when 48.  And her niece, who has reached a mere age of 31 – my first-blood cousin, or better, my non-biological sister.  What kind of a celebration does that make?  One of survival through learning to cope by speaking out.  In my case, by putting pain of this extent on paper.  To rise above the fact that these incredibly selfless mothers live no longer.  It is also a celebration of a different kind, though, for only through my poems I am  able to bridge the mothers to their living daughters.  There is thus a narrator, who is simultaneously also a participant in this – at times imagined, at times realized – communication: Myself.  As for the precious daughters: One is my own, the other, my cousin’s – the youngest member of this, to me, unique group of women.


In the memory of my mother ~ ~ ~

The only language my mother – her name was Hesna – and I used was that of love on the inside and Turkish on the outside.  I haven’t been able to celebrate Mothers’ Day for the last thirty-two years.  So, today, I take the liberty of leaving a poem I had written for my mom in her and my external language in my second year of high school – seven years before her death.  It has been always some comfort to me to know how much she had liked it:


Yavrundan Sana


Yağmur yağarsa dışarıda, gözyaşlarım sanıyorum.

Ağlayan bir ses varsa, senin sesine benzetiyorum.

Veda eden bir yüz görsem, senin yüzünü buluyorum.

Ruhum bir an daralsa, senin ruhunu hatırlıyorum.

Ufukta bir karaltı belirse, onda hemen seni tanıyorum.


Neden mi? Bilemem ki anne!


Didinen, uğraşan bir kadın görsem şekil değiştiriyor birden.

Annelerin kraliçesi, benim annem oluyor aniden.

Nedimelerin de her biri üstelik ayrı birer kraliçe, anne!


Sensizliğimi bir an hatırlasam, nankörce

Artık gözlerim buğulanmıyor anne.

Nasıl ki öyle tasavvur edemiyorum seni de

Ağlamayı bırak, sihrimiz kaybolabilir anne!


For my One and Only ~ ~ ~

After my daughter reached the age of an aware linguistic communication, I made sure to expose her at home to English and Turkish at the same time.  As a foreign language teacher also back then, I knew firsthand the importance of acquiring a language outside one’s native tongue.  You may want to skip reading the first two of the three poems below – about, for and to my daughter, as they are in Turkish.  Unless, you want to experiment how the language looks or sounds like (exactly how it is written).  The third is in English and one of my newer and saddest poems – reflective of an immensely trying divorce ordeal she, unfortunately, had to endure also:



Bir Taneme (1995)

To my One and Only


Gerçekte olamaz bu hiç, ama

keşke izleyebilsem seni her attığın adımında.

Kötülüklerini bir bir durdurabilsem zamanın.

Hoşçakal, hele elveda, hiç demesem sana.


Manasısın yaşamımın, aslısın, esasısın,

isterdim ki o nur yüzün asla ama asla asılmasın.

Metin ol, her zaman yürü kendi yolunda,

çok, ama pek çok seviyor seni bu ana.



Bir Taneme (2001)

To my One and Only


Nereye gitti yaşam?

Nerede o sevenlerim?

Miniciktim. Biriciktim;

Göçtü hep beni iyi bilenlerim.


Pek zormuş büyümek!


Uzak kalmak sevenlerden,

dünya dertlerine direnmek,

aman beklemek gelip geçenlerden.


Kalp ağrısı

Yılların ağırlığı

Sevenlerin ayrılığı

Alın yazısı…


Gene de sen gül, Yavrum!


Yaşam öylesine de güzel ki,

zorlukların yanında

birçok hoş zevkleri de var ki.


Yeter ki, başın hep dik olsun!

Gözlerinde dolu dolu heyecan;

Seçtiğin yollar hep açık;

Sevdiklerin gercek dostlar olsun.



twinning with *Munch – silent scream (2012)


onto death, I want to lay the self

my One and Only’s hope eyes erase the bed

before the head makes contact


onto death, I want to lay the self

deadlock is all I feel

what have I become?

what, though, had I been?


the husband…former already?


weary, distraught, ruined

my One and Only’s sun face takes a shadow now and again


it all began with her inside me

love took off to eternity with her every smile

my only precious bond to life

for whom I pushed aside the self

not one small regret

the one for whose hope death does not get me today


I made us a home, I glorified it

on my own for long, too long of many years

filling in for all marital lack: a promise is a promise after all!


years left, tens of years passed away

multiplied into trying decades


once looked aback, there exists a husband…

my One and Only’s sun face takes a shadow now and again

her graceful, not yet disheartened soul wound up

on the verge of a leap onto her own life


but…how about…

no, no, not possible!


once my One and Only is no longer home

having set onto her own path

the husband and I…

ways of ours ever so apart

how long, until where?

if the self can remain as self, that is!


onto death, I want to lay the self

my One and Only’s hope eyes erase the bed

before the head makes contact


onto death, I want to lay the self

deadlock is all I feel

what have I become?

what, though, had I been?


*  Edvard Munch


In the memory of my cousin, and for her one and only ~ ~ ~

I have written the final poem for the latest birthday of my cousin’s daughter, to honor not only her but also to commemorate the death of Hesna Yasemin, her long-deceased mother.  For, a cancer detected too late due to wrongful diagnosis robbed her of any opportunity beyond a mere one year to celebrate her daughter’s much sought birth.  There is, of course, much more to say about this beautiful young individual who is growing into a fine woman herself.  In order to preserve her privacy, however, I am only sharing my one poetic work on her tragically short life with her mother.  I make sure, though, to leave her within an imaginary talk her mother has with her in absentia:


Lilia, *mein Schatz

you won’t know me

I left too soon


you were born of love and longing so strong

made me feel immortal by your side

merely a year, though, is all we had aside


you are a young woman now,

beautiful, bright and loved very much

no longer the tiny darling in my arms

precious but ever so fragile,

sending me beams for immense joy

shaming even the cancer of its call


it is your birthday today

I am not there for you again


but don’t be sad as you are not on your own

also the one with whom you locked eyes long ago

in my in-laws’ house, on the ground story

when we were cradling you, a newly born beauty

the one who probably mirrored me to you

for the color of her skin, hair and eye

whose both arms better secured you many a meal

before you glided into a sleep so deep and real

embraces you always with my and her love combined

whom I introduced to you in her mother’s tongue


you know, mein Schatz, you have met her online anew

the one who signs her e-mails hülya *Teyze for me and you


*Schatz (German): treasure, darling, dear

*Teyze (Turkish): aunt; also “auntie”, in non-biological sense


A dream allows a reunion between the living and the dead ~ ~ ~

The final poem for today – one of my older works from a spirituality-oriented period in my life, retells a dream of mine in which another dream took place.  In the framing one, I am having a direct conversation with my cousin.  The verses are heavy in sadness first, as I am in despair having to relate to her my dream in which I attend to her infant daughter after her nap, change and dress her, play with her, inhale her sweet smell, laugh and giggle with her.  But I also observe how my hands transform into those of my cousin’s very shapely upper extremities.   My sorrow over this precious chance to experience her baby girl’s life, when her own mother is no longer, then, takes me to that over my mother’s void in me.  I ask her why she hadn’t called for me instead.  Toward the poem’s end, the sad tone eases, as I find strength for survival out of my death inside by diverting my attention to my daughter, who needs me very much.  For, she is too young yet.  The poem reaches a slow end with my promise to be there for her daughter along with my own.  Not without acknowledging the immense load of such responsibility along with my doubt in being able to fulfill it, as these two mothers have been exceptional in every aspect of their beings:


Anneler ve kızları(2001)

Mothers and Their Daughters


Rüyamda gördüm gene seni.

Hıçkırıklarım bile bozamadı büyünü.


Yalnız değildin bu sefer, yavrunu da düşledim;

bir tek beni istedi uyandığında tutulmaya,

giydirilmeye, altını temizletmeye.


Güldürdüm, oynadım bebeciğinle, kendiminkiymiş gibi;

sevdim, kokladım, okşadım onu.

Ellerim an an seninkilerine dönüştü;

sendedir şimdi onun sıcaklığı, mis kokusu.


Nedense belirsiz bir yerde kalmayı yeğledin…

Senin yerine ben tattım, özlemini o miniciğinden.


Merak etme, iyi bakılacak yavruna;

sen huzurda kal yeter ki, sırdaşım, kardeşim!

Rahmetler arasında bul burada olmayanı!


Arada bir sorarsın herhalde hatırını annemin;

bilirsin seni çok, pek çok severdi.

Acaba neden önce beni istetmedi?

Ona yavrusundan en son haberleri götür,

Üzülmesin, sadece gülücüklü olanlarını!


Bitmedim, tükenmedim henüz;

ne de olsa bence küçük bir yavrum var.

O eşsiz varlıklarınızı yaşıyorum dolu dolu,

kendi yavruma yansıtmak umuduyla;

yaradanın ender iki ruhunu

bulsun diye kendi benliğinde.


Bilmem gücüm yetecek mi, ya da ömrüm?

Bir tarafta annem, bir tarafta sen

Kızım ve kızın ise burada…


Tamamlamaya çalışırken yarım özlemlerinizi,

yavrunu da yavrumu da unutmadan;

hem de onlara sizleri doğru tanıtarak,

acaba eşsizliklerinizi aktarabilecek miyim?


Tanrım, meğerse iki meleğini göndermişsin yanıma!

Yavruları burada, beraber benim biricik yavrumla.

Sığınıyorum sana, güç vermen için bana;

öylesine zor ki devam etmek arkalarından,

içtikten sonra onların muhteşem suyunu.


Ama biliyorum, anladım artık, bir görevim var benim:

Ne kadar zor da olsa,

birçok zaman umutlarım da kırılsa,

üzüntü ve yorgunluklarımla da sonuçlansa,

onlarsız onların tadını vermek yavrularımıza.



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Filed under Poetry, Reflections

To the One to Whom My Writing Mattered the Most

For how long did you feel that familiar pain inside whenever my birthday was nearing?  Were you always filled with mixed emotions of joy and sadness while you were preparing those love-filled celebrations for me?  Did you ever resent my unexpected presence in your womb for preventing you from your process of mourning?  You surely must have suppressed its extent for fear it would hurt me, your unborn yet.

It is that time of the year again.  In fact, I am writing this on the day my birth-month arrived.  And, once more, instead of any anticipation for anything good, I feel sadness taking over me.  With all its usual might.  I suspected it then, I suspect it now: I must have taken in your immense internal suffering over your mom’s dying, while transforming into a human form inside you –  the way it is claimed we register music and words from the outside at our pre-birth stage.  Whatever it is, I don’t look forward to my birthday.  I haven’t in a very long time.

But, I have some good news, ‎mom: I am writing!  Maybe not in the way you had always wanted me to write but, still, I am writing!  You see, mom, I am leaving something concrete for my daughter after all.  A hands-on memory you seemed to have wanted me to create for us, for myself and for my future offspring.  I am so sorry for not having understood back then probably the only reason behind your fierce desire for me to sit down and write down my memories.  I should have known how belittling you would have found the way you were forced to be remembered: With a chiseled generic note on concrete stone.  In a somewhat privileged very old family cemetery compound but still, in a place where visitors are at risk of stepping on someone else’s grave, already three decades ago.

I felt so guilty, mom, for having been away for so long.  I still do.  I always knew how lost I would be in that place.  Still.  Then, there came along a news blog post by Eric Pfeiffer: A man’s dog not leaving his owner’s grave for  years.  In my shame, inspiration for a Haiku came to me.  Back then; I had no idea about this poetic form the Japanese gifted us with.  I am very new at my experimentation with it but like the prescribed form very much.  Besides, every time I try to compose one, Tunç dayım enters my heart with his repeated passionate plea to you, and then, I smile: “Please, please, Hesiko, don’t let Hülya marry someone from here.  I’m telling you: the Japanese are such refined gentlemen.  With Hülya’s extreme emotional sensitivity, only a Japanese man can do her justice as her husband.”  Anyway, mom, here is that poem:

in mourning

my mother’s grave, lost

too many look alikes since then

yet, his dog finds his

Just like you become alive in my memories, I, too, will live on in my daughter’s.  With one distinction: I don’t want your granddaughter to have a lingering reminder of the physical loss of her mother.  So, long ago, I determined my post-death matters and my wish is official.  This subject is, of course, a difficult one.  With you, it was taboo.  My choice in this matter is still far from being a conversation piece with your granddaughter – whom you would have respected for everything she represents but also for her immensely versatile life-view and acceptance and understanding of any and all of my differences.  The earth-shattering shock I lived after you is an experience I don’t want my daughter to go through.  Therefore, along the way, I have been gathering real-life evidences to leave behind as to how one can find peace after the loss of a mother – a book, a film and words of wisdom from different world cultures.  My latest find, Megan’s Way, is a novel by Melissa Foster and it equals to what I define as “eerie”: It is as if the author had known many from those sorrowful specifics of our lives.  I remember how impressed you always were with the amount of my readings, and how well you thought I could sum up their contents.  I am not going to tell you more about my newest discovery, though.  Instead, I will wind down my letter to you, holding on to my fantasy powers to imagine you are here to listen to me.

I know from dad how sad you were at first to have born a daughter – having witnessed your mother’s loss of her battle against cancer before my birth.  I have surpassed that dooms-day-age, mom, when our losses to cancer happened for several generations.  Including you.

I was never given the chance to say goodbye to you, mom.  I wrote about it in a story.  This time, I am the one who chooses not to bid farewell.  In about two weeks, you will have welcomed me to your arms way back when with a “hello”.  Today, I only need that warm welcome from you to let it accompany me before, on and well after my birthday yet once again.


Filed under Reflections