A Day in Istanbul

On the long road in Aksaray, men
reach at you with black-market Gap
jeans, Mango tank-tops, and all
you’d never buy because
the Chinese tourists are in the way
with multiple parasols.
There’s also the 4:40 train
under the Bosphorus, which delivers you
once again against the sun
at Forked Springs, where you wait
for a girl who’s bound to be late
because of the traffic on the bridge.
So you wander down to Haydarpasha
and watch the old trains stalled
in the sun and the crisscross
of tracks going nowhere. You need
to be at Mehmet’s for dinner at 6,
but suddenly you realize the girl
won’t be coming and a man
approaches you for a one-lira coin
and a cigarette and sits down.
He hasn’t shaved since Wednesday
and his glum button-down’s
greasy and torn. He has a story
in this city of a million stories,
and each is a dirty drape and each
a broken window, and his teeth
are slivers of mud, but he talks.
And you find in him no romance
of merged continents, no deceit
of Soviet spies—just a man who sold
plums in his youth to pretty girls
back east and took a train one day.

Carl Boon