When I Listen to the Nay – a poem by Nur Turkmani

When I Listen To The Nay 


I become the sea. The sea when it is nearly still,
the sea when a seagull comes close to its surface,
hardly touching the waves to catch fish, 
before flying off again. 
I become the sea and its ancient sailors, 
those who looked to the stars for when to leave, 
when to return. 
I become the sea when the sun generously spills onto it, 
turning its water into a shattered boulder of sapphire, 
each piece as precious as the other. All the lost parts of our self, 
here, when I listen to the nay, this thousands-year old 
wind instrument, and I become the sea, its suffering, 
if suffering were seen for what it is: one of the layers of life. 
I listen to the nay to become the sea, the heart of it, 
the blue fish almost a hundred meters beneath my surface, 
the black drum, the eels and kelp, 
even the midnight zone where sunlight cannot reach. 
Friend in despair and in hope, sit by me in this cold,
tell me, how to handle such depth—
such near-collapse.

Nur Turkmani is a Lebanese-Syrian researcher and writer in Beirut. Her poetry has been published in The Adroit Journal, London Poetry, ECLECTICA, and others. Her poem “Body Parts” was selected as a runner-up for the Barjeel Poetry Prize. She is the Managing Editor of Rusted Radishes: Beirut’s Art and Literary Journal and is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford.

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