“so rich in romance
so sparse in history”
In Trebizond the towers lean,
ululating at the waters,
churning distorting reflections
in an ominous angularity;
a gradual immersement in the boiling gelatinous pot of the whirlpool.
There are warlike vessels on the Black Sea,
smudges or puffs of smoke on an old canvas,
metastatic nodulations something’s
askew in the distance.
The Turkoman had supple bodies,
rode naked in winter,
clung like Centaurs to their horses.
They trace their origin
to the Turk Mountain in Outer Mongolia.
A princess renowned for her beauty looks down
from the parapet clutches a balustrade,
holds on to the embroidered hem of her loros
as if to her royalty,
drifts like an oar-less Argonaut
towards the myth of a northern shoreline,
her fleece a caprice of fool’s gold,
seems scintillating in the sunlight:
She floats grandiose on a reiterative wave of self-pity,
nervily brushing strands of hair as though they are insects.
Yes. She really can make her Turkish
Governor disappear magically imperiously with as simple a gesture:
an abstract asper,
its silver-coated surface
turned to an imperial solidus:
But the actualization of this effort
has not yet broached her consciousness
This is her fortress.
Her brothers are off now in the army
fighting distant wars for their enemy.
Five times a day they descend amidst
smoke carnage the snort of camels,
face East and with barely a simulation of hypocrisy,
rub knees touch shaven heads to embroidery murmur a syncytium of prayer to Allah.
Thus they cling to a name as to a mountain as tenuous and as fragile
a gentility as a spider’s webbing.
Such arcane derivatives were better swept
beneath a Persian carpet
and into surreal Kline-bottle mazes.
Stones crumble. The gates we wait for most are sealed,
guarded disguised as pits wherein fearsome vipers dwell.
Siliceous sediments translated to sand to shards of glass
mirror gleaming coins that have fallen between the cracks. The Towers
of Trebizond are decadent and green with mold,
and tomorrow’s seraglio holds the past
as hostage. Here the Middle-Ages parenthetically
will mime its way into the twentieth century,
play-acting its obsolescence
with a flicker on the giant screen:
“Painted Ships in Battle Array, with the Fall of Icarus.”
She moves her legs apart with intention,
as if to let in the poison.