Monday, July 6, 2009

Visiting an ancient Hittite Ruin

July 7, 2009

Sister Elizabeth Walters
once told me
that I have a fine funeral presence
that I sing the dearly departed souls
into paradise
guiding them gently
to find their angels
in the holy city,
that my voice
was light in the darkness...

And I remember
singing Schubert's Ave Maria
in the cavernous abyss of St. Thomas
for a seventeen year old boy
whose brother had found him
foaming at the mouth
from drugs his body insisted on expelling.
The boy's mother
had gently caressed his coffin
during the Kyrie
but during the Ave Maria
she wanted more of him in her arms,
and she cradled the casket
with her whole body
rocking him to the sound
of this Mary lullabye.
And it was at that moment,
when I could no longer witness such grieving,
when she finally held son gently firm
in her mother arms,
that I no longer needed breath
to sing.
The Ave Maria filled that space
between the altar and the stained glass
and I watched this lost mother
find her son.
My singing self,
so meticulously conscious of vowel and breath
of inhaling and exhaling,
so aware of each Latin syllable
and the language of memory
took over the song.

And today
standing on a mountaintop
surrounded by the ruins
of a three thousand year old
Hittite ancient city,
I could not leave the site.
This was sacred ground
and I wanted to feel the rootedness
to this space.
And so I placed my feet
shoulder width
and opened my palms
to the wind,
and it was at that moment
that the call to prayer
spoke from the minaret.
I have heard this call to prayer
five times each day, every day,
since landing in Istanbul.
When it all begins,
I hear the ragged break in the silence
and then go about the prayerless business
of my world.
But today
I needed to be still,
wanted to be still,
to call my body
and my mind
to a place
of conscious quiet.
Arabic filled the air
and I closed my eyes,
memorizing words
in a melody immersed in quarter tones
unfamiliar to my western ears.
And all was still,
save for the wind.
And when I opened my eyes
there were blue irridescent clusters
of light.
Silver threads
wove the blue patches
into a tapestry,
a sparkling quilt
that I could touch with my hands.
And I cradled up this blanket of blue and silver
in my open palms
and carried this quiet
down the mountain...


  1. Very lovely. Have you considered doing the entire blog as a series of poems? Set in this style, your words convey far more than the photos or the travelogue. It brings the reader in closer to you, lending an aspect that is unmatched by any other blogged travel account.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion... I , too, think the poems capture much more of the feel and the images that characterize places and experiences. I am happy that the poetry brought you in closer, as a reader. You didn't sign your name. Who are you???
    Thanks again,