The Boats of Being

galatabridge9 October 2016

At dawn, the moon
hung full over Istanbul,
a fading white wafer
in a navy sky.

We had cruised all night,
north from Rhodes,
asleep as we passed sleeping Troy,
the sea air, and the rhythmic
hum of the ship acting as soporific
on our excitement.  Before we slept
we watched the wake of the ship
phosphoresce in the moonlight,
on the grape-black Aegean.

Rising above the Bosporus
on the jewel-encrusted hill
stretched an amethyst palace,
and sat vast pearls,
one a cathedral, another a mosque,
our ship in comparison
but a geometric design
on the djellabah of water.

There the wisdoms
of west and east met,
there, Europe and Asia.
I half-expected to find
the Magi shopping for myrrh
imported from Smyrna
to that entrepot.  I did find
cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, a whole host
of spices to whet the appetite.

How the domed mosaics dazzled!
in their virginal blue above the Golden Horn,
a cornucopia-shaped waterway
where ships from all the world
off-loaded cargo.  Calamitous
with people and traffic were the streets,
the Galata Bridge a river
electric with humanity.

The seas had brought us
to that place,
Aegean, Marmara, the Strait,
sealing one continent to another,
seas as restless to bring us
as to take us away,
each of us a boat
on the tides of existence.

Philip Kuepper
(11-12 August 2016)

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