Eating in Anatolia
Like two old generals, roasted pigeon
and minced lamb cannot help but howl
at the thought of a girl from Thessaloniki
sitting next to a boy from Ankara.
They watch from porcelain hills, waist-coats
of garlic rippling on char-slicked shoulders,
and mumble a tantrum at the horror spread
upon the table below. Olives, soaked in lemon
and mint, are cushioned without mercy against
honey-burnt figs. Pine nuts, soft with oil,
are flattened by a beached aubergine that is split
open like a whale to reveal feta, heart-red currants,
and limp onions that burst in streamer bands.
Chickpeas, lentils, swollen shrimp in cracked-
cumin breastplates, all tangle beneath shoals
of steam. Somewhere, in the clutter, a heaped
sugar-flaked dish is set: half baklava, half loukoum,
a nightmare with sweet almonds that bulge
like tombstones beneath sesame crust.
This is the end, the hilltop patriots shout:
careless mingling, traitorous proximity.
Think of what they did to your mother’s mother!
Do you remember when the Greeks were at Smyrna? cries one.
Do you remember Turk boots on Christian necks? wails the other.
But the forms around the table cannot hear.
A braceleted hand pours Frankish whiskey,
rough thumbs unwrap glinting forks. No one
thinks of a time when Alexander reached the edge
of the world, or the year a sultan knocked on
the gates at Vienna. Worn knives come down,
and old ideas think themselves martyrs as they
are diced, smothered, and well-forgotten.
From the Red Cedar Review, issue 49. For more information on this author at the time of this publication, and other online issues of this publication go to: https://d.lib.msu.edu/rcr