The Fire Collector (for Orhan Veli)
I collect torn pages, faded tunes,
leaking bottles, the echoes of lost scents.
I agglutinate these accumulated archives
with spit and spunk and tears
and call them poems.
I tell myself that’s the one
that got away.
I collect slips of the tongue,
suppressed gestures, incipient dance steps
bitter recriminations and the stolen sweetness
of beloved liars
to make myself an autobiography,
the who I will turn out to have been.
There are boxes of evidence:
letters, ticket stubs, flyers, photographs.
Which imaginary jury will sift and weigh the evidence,
the relevance of the invisible trace of lost kisses,
the redundant keys to demolished buildings,
the dead names in an old address book?
Who’ll collect my ghosts, who’ll take them home
and feed them at the same table as their own?
I’ll start a new collection
of conflagration, sparks, fire,
I’ll let that blaze bless me
with its emptiness.
If you say my name
with my own name
you unname me.