Sure It Was...
It's been almost nine years since I first learned about the altın saatları -- and searching through the old driftwood of life on my computer, I stumbled across a poem I wrote after that summer. There have been a few small changes -- formatting, really -- but it's otherwise as I wrote it then:
We sat on the breakwall while your mother smoked
filter cigarettes and called my uncle long-distance.
She thinks she’s in love, you told me, but I’m not so sure.
July’s slow swell: the inky water smudging into the limpid air,
and the two of us kicking idly at each other’s ankles.
I’m not romantic, you explained, sketching out your life
on your hand, all right angles and parallel lines.
Izmir sloped up into the night, and I mentioned
how smooth the humped hills looked, backed like whales
cresting in the night; and the lights of your city webbed
out across the wide flanks of the hills like so many
dawn spider webs strung out between the slim branches
of young poplar trees, it was all, for lack of a better word,
beautiful. Sure it was, you said, running hands over your thighs.
We rode the ferry home across the water, and we sat in silence,
the three of us leaning over the peeling white railing
to peer into the thick water of the bay. Conversation
in a tongue not my own, though I imagined my uncle’s name
slipping in and out of your mother’s urgent voice,
like mackerel through slim-lined nets. What was I to say
to her, that my uncle was in love, that he would come
soon, that these flings had worked before? No,
even when I spoke to her, it was through you;
how I grasped for an image that would translate
the dark space between us.
Such as the scene,
two days later, of men pulling nets from water to shore.
Shirtless and almond-brown in the late summer sun,
they wound long skeins into their arms: the wet nets
rose from the water like webs or the lights of Izmir
slipping up the flanks of dark hills or my pale hand
against your leg, rising towards the warm night.