Poems‎ > ‎

Lili Marleen

Suddenly İstanbul Municipal Radio 
starts playing Lili Marleen.
Tears in my eyes.
I flunked the entrance exam of the German High school;
Leyla, my steady girlfriend since the first grade,
my eternal love, got in.
Our roads, I know, will separate.

What a beautiful language, says my mother
making my melancholy worse.

Don’t let the girls see you crying
advises my younger older-brother,
they’ll never go out with you again.

This was the song of the Nazi brutes, 
declares my older older-brother authoritatively
as if this historical fact would repair my broken heart

Aykut Onart 1942 - 2011

After taking a sip from his lemonade,
my father pitches in, trying to find a gentle side
– as always – in everything:
All soldiers loved it, 
Dutch, Hungarian, British,
and of course Italian…
Then he adds dreamily:
Even the Turkish reservists sang it
in the dark, in their barracks.

I see my parents looking at each other
– my father on leave for the weekend
in his meticulously ironed lieutenant uniform,
my mother, beautiful as a French resistance heroine –
sitting in front of our AGA v251 radio
holding hands maybe
and listening to Lili Marleen.