In Safranbolu

The evening I left, I went for a wash
In the neighborhood hammam. Lifted my dress.
Entered the water, which moved in rings
From me as though from a stranger, took a stick
To strip a layer of my old back.
In my bag lay a box of Turkish Delight
Meant for my parents, a book of notes, a passport
But I was holding nothing now as I floated
In pools upon pools of ancient tiled rooms.
There was a pigeon in an alcove making song,
Women in the shadows clucking disapprovingly
At me, unmarried and brazen
And free, in the windows a kind of violet smoke
I understood as twilight taking over the sky.
However hard I tried to erase the blot
My body kept bobbing back up.
I thought that’s what time was, you couldn’t lose it
Like a stone in water, that having been
Myself so long it would be forever.
And now Safranbolu doesn’t exist anymore,
At least not the one where my father
Still has years on the clock,
Where my mother’s unreason hasn’t begun,
The babies not sprung yet from their wherever,
City rich off spice, flame-colored threads of the crocus
That flowers on the hills around like blue light,
Whose gates I will pass through only in the mind:
When I slipped on my dress and reopened the door
Night had closed over the world that I knew.

Copyright © 2022 by Monica Ferrell. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 23, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.