Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
A crescent moon hangs over the airport,
its smoky aura a faded flag
unfurling to greet weary travellers.
The sun rises on fierce Taurus mountains,
while an orange seller opens his stall,
ready to squeeze any thirsty tourists,
dud Ataturk coinage at the ready.
Jewelled pomegranate juice is bitter:
Bitte schon, bitte schon, the fervent cry.
From the coach window slim minarets pass,
jabbing upward like propelling pencils,
whose secret calligraphy is noting
Islamic history on the skyscape.
In a field a lone cotton-picker wears
a balaclava-benign terrorist.
His eyes meet mine for a second’s fraction.
In the amphitheatre at Aspendos
a pseudo Roman centurion climbs
purposefully up the marble ledges,
kisses my hand; claims we’ll be together
forever, because he wants a photo
which he can charge me for, striking a pose.
Rebuffed, he then looks ready to crumble
like the masonry and retreats backwards,
dropping a five lira note in his wake,
sad confetti for a failed love affair.
I disentangle myself from a scarf
draped round my neck by a woman who knows
how to persuade me that her gift is free.
A straight-jacket of guilt ensures her sale.
Blue, glass evil eye is pinned to my chest,
but fails to protect me from bargaining
for a fine silk carpet I did not want.
A feral cat stretches over roof tiles
and a sandy dog curls up in the sun.
Soon the call to prayer will be ascending.
The dervish will rotate one final time,
realising his tomb is not on Earth,
but in the hearts of the enlightened.
How can I ever be his resting place
when all I see is from a moving pane?
Mum, that’s really good. You should publish it online when
we get back, encouraged Drusilla Fotheringay who was
looking over her mother’s shoulder as she wrote her
perceptions down in her diary. Show it to Dad.
They were sitting in the sun at Pigeon Valley, having some
apple tea before going on to The Fairy Chimneys.
No, your father would correct it with red ink and would give me
a mark out of ten. Once the teacher..
Mum, are you two going to get together, do you think, or….?
She looked around for her father, but he was standing looking
out across the chasm and appeared to be deep in conversation
with someone from the other tourist coach. The same company
was shifting various groups around the sites in a different order,
but today they seemed to have their charges in synch.
Both men were wearing cotton hats and very similar long shorts,
their look completed with orthopaedic sandals and dark socks.
It was then that she noted that they wore identical t-shirts
emblazoned with Britten Concert Dec 2013, St Birinus Middle School.
The face of the other conversationalist seemed familiar.
Mum, Drusilla whispered. Don’t look now, but it’s that conductor guy-
you know, the one from the school concert.
Mr Poskett? replied her mother. Oh, what a bore! What’s he doing
I don’t know. Your evil eye amulet doesn’t seem to be
working! You should ask for a refund! Look out! Here he comes!