Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Turkish Delights

Jelly made from red and yellow roses, dried apricots and figs, a brazier of hot coals brought to your table. the fairy chimneys, people living in caves, the confluence of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn, and the Sea of Marmara, reading Melville on Istanbul, halava, men sipping tea, the women late at night carting their children home, Iznik tiles, men in barber shops, late at night, their faces slathered in shaving cream. The barber looks up, razor poised, as we pass.

The Hotel Poem, wooden houses that look ready to fall down, the silence of the harem. A mysterious sadness that lingers there. The man with the pet ducks. Parrots nesting in the trees in Topkapi park.

Unimaginable things. An island where the dogs once died. An island where princes lived. In exile. The point where women were hurled into the sea, in sacks. East meets West, old meets new. Small blue fish from the Bosphorus, calamari from the Aegean, and wine from Anatolia. A dog names Aries. Forbidden chambers. The Aegean dogs who wander the streets. They are fed and never killed.

The other night Larry woke up at 4 in the morning and thought he saw a ghost ship. A spectral vision on the sea. Maybe an ancient caique. bearing the sultan and his concubine home. the sultan never seen, carpets everywhere, the hamams and my body slathered in soap and salt. An underground city, six stories deep. silk, places to lie back and lounge. Hooka pipes, sacred dogs, Turkish coffee, the Galata bridge where the Golden Horn and Bosphorus meet the sea.

In the fish district a woman in purda races ahead of a man who trails her. She keeps shouting at him. Is it an altercation or is she rushing to get sardines before the market closes. At the sea she takes out her digital camera and snaps his picture before the sun goes down.

A chicken tells my fortune. It tells me to quit dwelling on the past.
A bowl of red, green, yellow, orange Turkish delights that appears in our room, winding streets and blind alleys, the call to prayer at five a.m., the Blue Mosque at midnight, gulls flying in the shadows, the view of the sea from our room.

The promintory overlooking the Black Sea. Everywhere. The sea.


  1. I think this is my favorite post of yours ever. Such such beautiful writing. So excited to talk to you about this in person. Sounds like an exquisite trip, and well.... quite a journey.

  2. This is so nice of you. It might be my favorite post too. Just a list, but loved writing it. Looking so forward to talking with you upon your return. And yes it was quite a journey.