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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 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.

Posted in: Features

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