An Imprecation

Protests, Istanbul April 25 2009Last Friday while sitting at a local coffee shop awaiting a call back from yet another software company here in Austin—I got the job—I saw a young Middle Eastern woman. She had luxuriant raven hair tied in two long braids falling over her shoulders, like that of a school girl’s. She wore a heavy wool sweater and baggy pants that did little to hide her shape. Her kohl-lined eyes and deep brown irises were murderous and magnificent, much as I imagine Circe or the Sirens to have looked. But none of this compared to the sound of her voice.

I wasn’t paying her much attention until she spoke. She was teaching an old roughneck-oilman Turkish. It was that sound—a sound I’d heard a thousand, million times in Istanbul that never failed to bring a smile, and a winsome, poignant agony, a certain lilt to her voice, an inflection beating out the tempo of ages past, empires risen and fallen, wild horsemen on the Parthian Steppe. Born of the Earth and the long passage from the Land Of Darkness somewhere along the Orkhon River an age or two ago. Not nasal, more from the back of her throat, almost like the sound of a surprise or a poetess in rapture and while I listened, a thousand keening images from the city on the Straits rose before me, of kahvalti and chai, raki and an uskumru sandwich along the Eminonu docks; of crowds milling in and out of the great bazaar; the horn of the night’s last ferry crossing over to Uskudar; radical students playing the guitar and singing huzun songs along Istiklal Caddesi; of the green glass skyscrapers of Levent, the red-tiled roofs of my home district, Elmadag and the mirror-blue waters skipping across the Marble Sea.

The river flows and takes me away and as each cold day passes here in Austin I lament more and more for my city, the city and the simple sonorous carols of Turkish.

Thus my imprecation to the universe: I’m rotting here.

2 Responses to “An Imprecation”

  1. Chronicles Of The Return » Blog Archive » Invoking The Muse

    [...] I may be rotting, but what that Turkish woman wrought on Friday? What she wrought! [...]

  2. Invoking The Muse « The Agonist

    [...] more dangerous than Omar » Invoking The Muse By Sean Paul Kelley, on February 17th, 2010 If I’m rotting, it’s a charmed, golden atrophy. What calamitous catalyst that Turkish woman wrought on Friday [...]

Leave a Reply