Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Anatolian road

Stone ridge across the valley—
tinned mosque roof gleams on distant hill.

Trees blur by, the colors of olive,
mint, young lemon fruit, dusty sage,
some sheened yellow with small flowers.
I wonder about their names,
like the words, the syllables
I hear around me,

I reach for them, run my fingers
through the branches slipping through,
catch a few leaves between cupped palms.
I wonder at their colors, the determined route
of their veins.

Sand and rock, lonesome pines
give way to green grasses
of the fertile plain. Sparse trees
gather more together, moving west.
Violets and poppies gather.

Beside me, a young man
has cellphones, two, on his folding tray,
ears plugged into the radio,
into the very wiring of the machine.
Song after song,
the same bass and tick,
the rhythm that quickens hearts
the beat of glamour, broadcast.
His sigh falls heavy on my arm.

Across the aisle, a woman
traces a line of brown hair
behind the ear
of her daughter,
sixteen years old.

Two attendants pace the aisle
in starched white shirts,
bushy brows and adam’s apples.
Every little while they offer something--
Çay, bey effendi?
Nescafe, soda?
A sandwich crinkled in plastic,
newspapers of every stripe.
More tea,
and “refreshing moist towelettes.”

(Sadly, the lemon cologne,
the ritual offering
poured from bottles
into open hands,
is disappearing.)

Towns nestle at the feet of stony hills—
red roofs, faces white and gray,
weathered wood, cinderblock and brick,
some just skeletons,
silent, until the money’s saved
to continue building.

Trucks muscle past,
onions and potatoes
bound in plastic sacks.

A driver from Iran
stops by the watermelon vendor
still yelling karpuz! karpuz!
over the highway’s roar.

Cows, brown and white, black—

dust, stormcloud—

Oases sell hot meals and trinkets
on either side of the road,
declare their names on billboards:


Rosy Spring,
Speckled Fish,
Son of Ismail.

At every turn, crimson
waves the flag
for the Republic
and the football team.

Muddy river curves,
laundry on the line, waving.

Auto factories, train tracks,
the Marmara Sea opens up.

Row crops,
power lines,
vines of rusty leaves, waving.

This is draft number five of a work in progress. Critique is most welcome.

Unfortunately, this daft refuses to display the dozen or more lines that are irregularly indented, especially near the end. Try imagining some of the lines shifting horizontally across the page. Or if you would like to see the original, I can email the Word file to you.

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