When Smyrna fell, we rose from the chairs
our grandfather made and grew unsure
what to call ourselves. We—who’d always
broken bread with them and stuttered
strange Turkish vowels—
found ourselves nervous at the picture
window watching their horses and soldiers
leaping at the delight of land, weeping
against their swords at the square
they’d christened theirs.
Mother brought oranges from the pantry;
Father took the crosses from the walls,
but the outlines remained. We had no paint
to cover them, and Aunt Maria read
1 Corinthians quietly.
We braced for brutal mornings, asked
each other what would happen if stones
came through the window, if what was ours
would eventually be theirs, if our books
I approached the sidewalk, gazed at
the shuttered bank and bakery; I wondered
how the holy months would be—ours
in April and theirs in May and if we’d
ever overlap again.
I loved their pide and that first olive torn;
they loved the way my mother boiled eggs
and cracked the first against my forehead
for fortune, believing God was watching.
My God, their God,
the same God dancing past our indiscretions,
the bream that floated in the sea in June.
The Aegean divided us but somehow
made us one, made us ask each other
whom we were before.
Carl Boon’s debut collection of poems, Places & Names, will be published this year by The Nasiona Press. His poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Posit and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University.