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Poetry & Photography by Arsal Asal 

Berth 26

She holds the shredded glass in her hand

A flare hits her face

She becomes a ghost


The Sun breaks the purity of her innocence

And her dance begins with fire

Her skin burns; her hair is caught on fire


Green turns to blue

Glaze in her eyes gaze

Dust suffocates shadows drift

Her eyes closed she rams the gloom

The waltz begins the envious flutter


The birth of the futile virtue

Deems the soul of the corrupt

It’s all dark but the royal follows the dusk


The jarred struggle to grasp

Yet he rumbles the foreign 

And he endures the virgin’s affection


For the first time in his life

Feels with his eyes and sees with his heart


Love that is less passionate than he felt for a lover

Yet more affectionate than he felt for a sister 

Lust that challenges coalitions forever 

Greed of wanting to make her feel better 

While fearing hurting her by executing her monster 


A requiem for the wasted 

Hailing the gullible

The wicked persuade him to be the victor

Though the sick will always struggle to part the utter

And that’s why he will end up being the joker

I met Emerald on a cold San Francisco night. Initially planning to become tipsy, I ended up becoming so drunk that I had to step out and take some fresh air. As I leaned my back against the brick wall, my eyes closed, tuning into the low frequency song that I was able to hear from the bar, I was suddenly awoken by the parched husky voice of a green haired woman: “can I bum one?”


Forgetting that I don’t carry cigarette packs because I identify myself as a “casual smoker,” I nodded my head. As I searched my pockets, I realized I didn’t have any. Then I realized I wasn’t smoking, either. I stood there confused––her large blue eyes gazing me. Before I could say anything she looked at me and went “Jeez, it’s okay. I can bum one off someone else, you just looked like a smoker.” 


I watched her walk away and drunk-me became fixated on the idea of finding a cigarette, while lazy me was way too insecure to ask around. Frustrated, I leaned back against the wall again. My friends came out to check on me but I refused to go back inside. I was enjoying the breeze and the idea of going back into the bar was suffocating.


In my own intoxicated world, softly singing the tunes, I heard her voice again. “Here you go.” I see her holding a lit, half-smoked cigarette. I would have sprinted out of happiness––like Charlie did when he found that damn golden ticket––and I’m pretty sure my mind did sprint a mile in that moment. I took a drag.


That night, in front of a local bar, this woman shared her story with me. To this day, I’m still not able to remember the details. She was hurt––deep. She poured her heart into a drunk stranger because it was carefree. She didn’t rely on me keeping her secret, the terms didn’t apply, we were both drunk, and she was right. 


Two weeks later as I searched my laptop for an assignment, I found a poem, written by me, the night of. As I read what I wrote, I realized a number of things: 1. her name was not Emerald, 2. I am a smoker in denial and 3. I probably needed to change my friend group, since I had basically chosen chatting with a stranger over hanging out with my friends.


But at the end of the day, in my own way, I tried to write a tribute to her past and, in a way to celebrate her existence. For that, she will always have a special place in my own existence. This piece, then, is for her––written my drunk self. Thank you, Emerald. 

Arsal has created and collaborated on several short film and photography projects since 2014 both in the US and in her home country Turkey. She graduated from the New School located in New York with a degree in Media Studies with a concentration in digital filmmaking and a certificate in screenwriting in 2016 and moved to San Francisco, CA to work as a creative editor in a tech company. She was back in Turkey during 2017 for the production of her most recent short film “Kul”. She is currently obtaining her MS in Digital Arts degree in San Jose, CA. Arsal applies her background in psychology and business along with her passion for travel, activism and writing to explore and execute projects to represent the moving image and story telling.

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