The beginning of Selcan Peksan’s Slippage (Bored Wolves, 2022, translated from the Turkish by Anna Wood, drawings by Maja Daneková), a post-apocalyptic poem cycle that takes the reader beyond the collapse of civilization, was poetically reconstructed by Selcan from diaries she kept contemporaneous to Istanbul’s first lockdown, in March 2020, and a veterinarian’s simultaneous misdiagnosis predicting her beloved dog, Maya, had little time left to live.
The vet was, and would be proven, wrong. But the worry was debilitating, as in the poem “Nine Months Later (Worst Fear),” set at a projected moment of encroaching infestation and victual spoilage throughout the city: “My worst fear is losing the dog / but that my own fear will frighten the dog / is even worse than my worst fear. / When I say the dog I mean MAYA.”
In “The Second Year (Elixir),” read by the poet above in the original Turkish, Selcan struggles to maintain the balance between providing and requiring care and some sense of security. There is, however, reciprocity in the last dry room in the apartment, transferred between poet and pup via shared tail.
One last note: as humanity hastens its own demise in Slippage, all proper nouns (e.g. a corrosively wilting “eiffel tower”) are stripped of their capitalization. Maya is the exception. So much so that she’s MAYA, articulated with urgency and love.
The Second Year (Elixir) Without human intervention when the first storm hits rains trigger a cascade of events water inundates coastal cities fire and floodwater rage unchecked manmade products are reduced to ash nitrogen builds up for fire flood and plants to feed on. On four separate tracks she arrives curling up next to me when we lie spine to spine I have a dog tail. I give her the heart medicine with salmon oil vitamin e and diuretics glucosamine pumpkin purée bone broth with marrow and eggshells. Fluid fills her lungs. As we gather our wet belongings to move to the front room I say MAYA MAYA I say if you weren’t here I never would have lasted this long. She wags our tail.