The Moonrise Kingdom

by Can Mavioğlu, UWCM Alumni & TFD alumni
16th of December, 2022
Illustration by Maripaz Sandanoval Cascante

Sweet fourteen, a whole brave new world.

During the preparation year in high school,

away from Home for many years.

Under the torrid heat of thirty-three degrees celsius,

An ancient building -The Stickler Hall

In the bottom of the country, Tarsus.

Welcome to my story;

My Moonrise Kingdom.


What was love? An instant moment of affection?

Or the compassionate caress of peach-pink pigment 

on fine cheeks?

The intervening glimpses are frightening to meet.

Uttered with indirect word choices.

“You smell like peaches….”

“Can I borrow your favourite book?”

“Why are you putting mud on my new



It was the word that I exchanged with my childhood love.

My first and last, for many things. 

An old tale, as naïve as it is cliché.

The dominant sentiment. 

Pure, as it sounds 

and fulfilling. 


A butterfly over here.

“You are only fourteen, God’s sake!”

Six jointed legs, three body parts: azure blue with white ablaze…

“Do you even know what love is?”

Is it me, inside of my head;

Or her perfection in my eyes?

Premature but promising,

Promising of peach marmalade;

One spoonful of life.


Yet, in my grand household, 

I have never experienced it.


With my pastels of every colour -at least seven of them were limitless-

Jumping around the Home with two similarly minded eight-year-olds,

Drawing Callistoctopus Macropus with opal orange texture and bright white patches;

Galapagos penguins, standing with their timid posture.

And machines complex to our perceptions, like an electromagnetic inductor working with alternating current.

For us, it was or only on; But for us;

It was childhood.


My grandmother’s lovely, humble house, near the most beautiful sea.

Living there every weekend for the first two years of high school to escape from the dorms.  

The bright sea; the Mediterranean.

Her pleasant voice was sweeter than any pear honey, 

Ravishing nights, full of uncountable stars, constellations, and the moon.

On my grandmother’s balcony, as usual, there was the smell of the sea. 

I recall my brother, who used to live with me a year ago.

She lights her cigarette in the endless night, says: 


“You need anybody in life, but your siblings 

and your education, my sweet child.

Remember your naughty little adventures to the big lemon tree, 

and the only companions of yours who carried you after your numberless injuries. 

As long as you stand by one another, 

the world becomes a wall for the four of you 

a wall on which you can paint your dreams.”


My beautiful grandmother.

It has been three years since I carried her in my arms. Thousands of kilometers from Maastricht to Mersin, 3511 exactly.

She is the one who taught me what love could be:

Sometimes, it appeared on the balcony facing the sea, with plants in all sorts, nearby the ashtray, as a beautiful farewell to your companion, passed away many years ago; 

Other times we found it in a flavoursome dish, with the touch of love from aged hands, 

donated with fresh spices -a feast of taste; 

And, on occasion, it’s a grand gesture of eyes filled with tears when seeing me performing my greatest passions. 


I learned how to treat flowers from her. How to indulge them,

sometimes exchange emotions with them:

How to admire and respect them. 

How to love them. 

We exchange words with each other, with my grandmother and

my honey love, with the blush on her cheeks

like the little cherries on our balcony.  


Thuswise, we are at the peak of living, once again;

at the station of star chasing, of looking at the sky.

My first love is standing by my side, 

for all those years, 

as my grandmother stands at the other station.

Our little gang of eight-years-olds is already gone, but, 

The sentiment and the rush are still the same,

on occasion. 

Our only hope, our only share,

is our love. 

Let’s not stop; let’s look at the sky!