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Inside the deathless domes of Hagia Sophia lives a little cat. Softness against stone. Outside, we lunch on bagel-like simits with sesame seeds and salep-thickened ice cream that holds its shape while melting. Back at our room, the maid has left a snack. Turkish delights skewered by toothpicks topped with tiny blue beads bearing eyes that ward off evil. At night, the hookah bubbles. We scribble smoke signals in the air.

In the tempest’s eye   
a fleet of moonflower sails
— whirling dervishes.

* *

Kilims, tea sets, gold-embroidered Moorish shoes fill our suitcase. A silver sliver heralds Ramadan. By evening, families gather near the Blue Mosque, spreading feasts on picnic tables. In the waning light, they sit there, just sit, beneath lofty minarets strung with lights, a giant necklace in the sky. Right at sunset, the muezzin calls. Then they dig in. So many disparate lives, synchronized in iftar.

The pail of the moon
in the sky’s inverted well
will fill, fill again.


Ida Marie Beck is a scientist with a poet’s heart. A native of Denmark, trained in quantum chemistry, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has recently appeared in the California Quarterly.

© 2022, Ida Marie Beck

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