I will go to sleep
and awake in Istanbul.
The dreams, already here
keep arriving. I am flying.
The plane must land on the water.
It becomes a boat: the sunlight golden
as my memories are golden, born as I was in the East,
the call to prayer a sound of my earliest knowing,
a deep knowing of my own foreignness
both to the land of my birth and to the house of my parents.
Istanbul along the Bosphorus, place of meeting
for thousands of years, where East and West strike
as in my own heart. The dreams arrive
against a destination still imaginary. I will go to sleep
and awake there.
The wind roses of September
are already charted on the waters of the sea:
the slap of the jib, the shadow of the hull,
my shadow on the water, on the water deepening,
the familiar future.
There is no way from here
to pay a change fee
for my flight on Turkish Air.
The agent apologizes, telling me
I am not there
until I arrive.
I cannot change
unless I go.
And to be changed by a place
is to gain again
Don't I long to be recognized?
When I leave, will this place remember me?
This water, these stones? These dusty
light-dappled pine woods I have loved?
In the smallest moments
I see my childhood:
an alley, a fence, shoes
outside a door
and the sun at noon
raging in the perfect silence.
Anchored out in the empty night,
the silent water,
when the mast sounds
a single long note.
In port with many boats around,
each mast sounds its own tone
in a chorus, inhuman but compelling,
a dream of the wind.
Every journey is an advance
towards a receding goal.
The summers of my past
in the salt air, the tang of mustard weed
will never return
just as I will never be of this place.
Mystery builds on mystery.
To come here is to see
doors I will never enter,
hear words I will never utter, gaze down
paths I will never follow.
The call to prayer that echoes back
from hills and buildings is a call
I answer and yet never will,
this song, this beckoning.
We meet an imam, keeper of goats.
He comes down to the beach from his house,
through the ravine. He waves us ashore,
goats gathering to him. Singer of prayers,
bee tender, he waves us ashore.
Due into port we cannot take his offer
to have tea in his home.
How can we tell him
what he has already given?
We imagine ourselves sitting
drinking tea with him.
We see the small hut, the bee hives,
the olive grove, the makeshift mosque.
We hear him singing
as we climb the path from the beach.
His voice electrifying in the forest,
in the stillness
deepened by fallen pine needles.
Memories flutter before me;
I can hardly contain them. They are almost
straight from my muscle and bone:
the sweetness of the fig tree in the afternoon heat,
the spice of pine, dust and silver olive leaves,
the wind through the pines
singing middle notes.
Corners lifting, the present, caught
by the past it is making, starts to reel,
as we do now when we go on shore,
stairs and streets swaying, events flutter:
we cannot contain them.
Trying to hold departure to one point
I invent the moment--
when I disembark for the last time,
turning my head to look back at the water--
but I lose my own leaving
in countless tiny fractures
as cloth slowly rending,
time wrested away.