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  You could have a big dipper   

Ev is the Turkish word for home by Dakota Alexander

She sings to me in her native tongue

and I echo her, my Southern accent

ruining the melody as we prepare ingredients.

Her unabashed amusement and delighted

commentary, playful jabs at my pronunciation

earn a smile as she starts a new playlist and begs,

“Please, try to sing this for me.”

I crank up the music as I plug in the grill.

She warms as my voice cracks,

pieces it together

with her melodic tones,

matches my volume after half a song;

caricatures come alive, cackles cleansing

the night. We blend together so well.

The chicken (tavuk) sizzles

on the George Foreman, my nonexistent

skills with outdoor grills a silent threat

to my undoubted fragile masculinity.

The scent of curry and smoky mesquite flavor

the air as she wraps sarma, stuffed and rolled

grape leaves, and arranges them, gentle as comfort

food on cold nights, on the platter.

The presentation is the true key.

She doesn’t have to think to swaddle sarma;

she just does. Her mother taught

her so well that the instructions etched

life lines into her palms. I want to know her

as well as she remembers grape leaves,

so well I can embrace her heavy, her days

where talking carries too much weight,

mold them to my unassuming still, my nights

where she knows we can sit and say nothing

and I will not claim she doesn’t love me,

and have her come out mended

every time, lighter, reassured that I will not leave. She starts

the vegetables next, sauteed onions and affection

paired with fried tomatoes and peppers

(domates ve biber kızarttım).

She twists a curl as she fries up insecurities.

Her focus causes silence except crackling doubts,

so I remind her that her laugh

is my favorite dish.

She chops English words and grates

them down into Turkish equivalents,

like fridge (buzdolabı) and glass (bardak)

and love (sevgi).

Seni seviyorum. I love you.

Biliyorum. I know.

She breathes my middle name

like it’s as familiar as an old family recipe --

Everett--, but tonight as we label the kitchen,

she shortens it to Ev, and I don't mention

that my mind equates it to naming me

the Turkish word for home.

She is my home, too.

She smiles the same way she did

the first time she reciprocated

my proclamation of devotion

to us in any capacity, casts her eyes

anywhere but mine,

and melts the words

You know. . . Yakışırız ama.*

We could be good together.

But we know the truth, know

that no matter how far she drops

the pulleyed basket out of her kitchen window

to lift me up and gather me into her arms,

love has 5,700 miles of desolate ocean

and missed connections between us,

and her rope will remain an outstretched

hand too short. For now, these Friday digital

meals are the single sense of normalcy we have.

Maybe we will be separated

all our lives by six inch screens

and endless airwaves, but we still

make memories we enjoy.

Maybe it can be enough.

Maybe it has to be.

After dinner, as her voice begins to fade,

I whisper my dreams across the wires and say,

“When you go, al beni yanina--

take me with you.

Sonsuza dek.


Yakışırız ama.

Yakışırız ama.

I will be your home.”


*Author’s note: I have seen a few different translations for “Yakışırız ama,” including the one I used (“We could be good together”) as well as things like “We would look good together.” This phrase is a song lyric from “Çok Çok” by Edis, and when I asked my friend that this poem is about the translation, she said that since it was a song lyric there were a few ways to translate it that all had the same basic meaning, and the translation I used was one of those that had the right basic meaning. It worked best for this poem, but I apologize if it is translated incorrectly!


Dakota Alexander (he/him) is a trans individual who currently shares his home with his two cats and his dog. He has an MLIS and is in school again for a degree in Cyber Operations. He loves to travel, attend concerts, and learn languages. Twitter-- @kotaonthecoast

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