Sins at the Marmara Sea
I buy the last bottle of beer
at Mustafa's shop and slide
down the hill toward the sea.
It's the first night of Ramadan
and I, the only Christian here,
am reading Nabokov
and drinking fiercely in the slit
of separated night-clouds.
At the sea, a woman spins
and twirls and spins and
tosses her dead husband's
clothes into the water,
chanting prayers. It's a ritual
to honor the dead,
a sky of dervishes, a beer
in my hand, and my mother
reading the life of St. Ephrem
in Ohio, very far away.
It took me many months
to realize a poem ends
where it begins, on the neck
of a girl sleepy with sunrise
at Kadıköy, clutching a purse
containing all she knows:
a postcard from Ankara,
a photo of a friend, lotions,
and the accoutrements
of being young. She dozes
past the Bosphorus Bridge;
she will not be disturbed.
I hold the collected poems
of Francisco X. Alarcon
and shall not wake her.
She asked me if I believe in destiny.
I said the sky is blue, it will be blue
tomorrow. Suppose this allured her.
Suppose she descended the Metro
steps thinking of her boyfriend,
thinking every step she failed to make
will drive him farther away. To Eda,
to Efla, to Merve, who waits at his door
with a plate of eggplant and a pocket
of roses. I've made a sad dilemma
by answering a question. I'm unfair.
I can't distinguish airplanes from stars.
I can't even tie my shoes without reviewing
the consequences, and she's crying now.
Carl Boon lives in Istanbul, where he directs the English prep school and teaches courses in literature at Yeni Yuzyil University. Recent or forthcoming poems appear in Posit, The Adirondack Review, The Tulane Review, Badlands, The Bangalore Review, and other magazines.