Traveling in Turkey

I. Turkish Countryside, December 2000

Minarets point past
Greek, Roman, Christian ruins,
across dry landscapes.

Sun-leathered farmers
till small fields, tend sheep:
ancient agriculture endures.

Olive harvest:
above spread canvas sheets
women shake grey gnarled limbs.

Glowing, ordered orchards:
bare, red-branched apricot trees,
green citrus rows.

Dusty crossroads,
moustached men flag the dolmus
to other villages.

Different views, words, food,
customs; yet curious kids
still stare, grin, chatter.

II. Ramadan/Ramazhan:

Turkey: Ramadan.
Great drum beats reverberate
through sleeping houses.

Ramazhan drummers
chant along night streets for coins,
lamplit circles throb.

BOOM! Pre-dawn drums
shatter holy sleep. Prayers
uttered, dark breakfast time.

Day’s empty food stalls,
quiet markets; queues wait for
evening’s fresh baked loaves.

Turkey: Ramadan.
Bright crescent moon shines over
urgent cooking fires.

III. Priene Daytrip:

High mountainside pines,
great fallen pillars:
Athena’s temple ruins.

Tall fluted stone shafts,
sunwashed ancient marble slabs:
artist sits sketching.

Ferns, moss-covered walls
shine green, water oozing down:
hidden dripping sounds.

Sunset, waiting for
local dolmus minibus:
cold seat on dry stones.

IV. Didyma afternoon:

Unfinished temple,
huge pillars for Apollo,
old well, oracle.

Gigantic pieces,
chunks of dressed granite, carved trim:
monumental steps.

Unassembled stones,
massive fallen marble blocks:
spread, splayed, across fields.

Huge circular cross-sections
dropped like dominoes in
some immense match!

Flat ancient terrace, smooth
surface scratched, marked by lines of
an unknown board game.

Two giant columns stand:
blackbirds swirl, settle, sleep
like silent Apollo.

V. Trudging Round Troy:

Brown grassy site,
occasional tourists stroll
over dirt silent dig.

Layers upon levels,
forgotten shards, broken stones,
once cities: Troy.

Rings of earth, roads, ramps,
every pebble history:
quiet archeology.

Weathered war walls, hinting
huge epics . . . how many
thousand years exposed?

Homer’s time of ships:
coastal plains now filled
with alluvial soils.

Amphitheatre speaks:
broken seats, unremembered
dramas, empty space.

Caroline Balderston Parry

Caroline Balderston Parry is a member of Ottawa (Ont.) Meeting but spends most of her Sundays at the First Unitarian congregation where she is currently their director of religious education.