In this week’s poem, Kerem Durdag’s “What you do,” a man tries to offer his sister solace from a great distance. I love this poem’s clear, unaffected candor and forward momentum, and how gracefully it interweaves heartache with the beauties of rebirth.

Durdag is the CEO of Great Works Internet, a B-Corp that’s been named one of the best places to work in Maine. He sits on several boards and contributes to conversations statewide. Crazy enough to be a short feature film and animation producer, he is also the author of a musical, which premiered last year, and is currently working on a play and writing Turkish songs. He used to edit poetry magazines (one with his best friend Bill Varner, whose poem was published in this column last week), and his own poems have been published here and there.

What you do
By Kerem Durdag

What do you
do when your sister
wants to divorce
her husband
and she is all the way in
all alone by herself
looking at this
long ridge
of being a single parent
to an eighteen-month-old

you hold her hand
as best as you can
on WhatsApp
you tell her you will
love her no matter what
you will make her believe
she will always have you by her side

on this day
all the promises
you never made
arise from the warm earth
together with the tulips
on to your
as she cries
as she cries
as she cries

and oh how tired she is
this war
but the only answer
is love

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “What you do,” copyright 2024 by Kerem Durdag, appears by permission of the author.

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