Bus across night to Göreme, Turkey, by Dr Robyn Rowland AO
Dr Robyn Rowland AO (http://robynrowland.com) is an Australian-Irish dual-citizen, annually visiting Ireland for thirty-three years, now living half-time in Connemara. She regularly visits and works in Turkey. She has written twelve books, nine of poetry. Robyn’s poetry appears in national and international journals and in over forty anthologies, including seven Best Australian Poems: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2010, 2009, 2005 and 2004 (Black Inc.), with editors Les Murray, Robert Adamson, Lisa Gorton and Geoff Page; and Being Human, ed. Neil Astley, (Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2011). Her work has been awarded a number of prizes and she has published and read in Australia, Ireland, Japan, Bosnia, Serbia, Austria, Turkey, Canada, India, New Zealand, Portugal, the UK, the USA, Greece and Italy. Robyn’s poetry has been featured on Australian and Irish national radio programs. Robyn has two CDs, Off the Tongue and Silver Leaving — Poems & Harp with Lynn Saoirse. Dr Robyn Rowland AO was an Honorary Fellow, School of Culture and Communication 2008-2012, University of Melbourne; was a member of the National Advisory Council for Australia Poetry Ltd 2010-2013; curated and presented the Poetry & Conversation Series for the Geelong Library Corporation, 2010-2013; and was inaugural Deputy Chair of the Board of the Australian Poetry Centre 2007-2009. Previously Professor of Social Inquiry and Women’s Studies at Deakin University, she retired in 1996 and was created an Officer in the Order of Australia for her contribution to higher education and women’s health.
Recent books: Line of Drift, Doire Press: http://www.doirepress.com/writers/k-z/robyn_rowland/ . This Intimate War Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915 – İçli Dışlı Bir Savaş: Gelibolu/Çanakkale 1915, Turkish translations Mehmet Ali Çelikel from Five Islands press: http://fiveislandspress.com/catalogue/this-intimate-war; Bilge Kültür Sanat, Istanbul, http://www.bilgeyayincilik.com/kitap.asp?ID=735
Bus across night to Göreme, Turkey
Heading into dusk, the land has me captive,
moving under us in slow undulations,
the ancient earth, before.
Light is leaving and the desert ahead waits silent.
Yesterday, a thread of bald tarmacadam
pulled us through olive groves,
goats hanging from grey boulders,
donkeys sleek and muscular.
Taurus mountains trawling us,
snow was still varnishing the end of winter.
We left behind fields of sea that sprouted islands.
Old colours of turquoise and indigo
soaking through their waters and skies,
horizon became a melt of blue.
Past orange orchards, strawberry farms
bursting out of red volcanic soil, valleys of green mint;
past country mosques, markets stacked with peaches,
early wheat, pumpkins the size of giant’s food.
Past sugar mountains twisted into delight,
past red flags, star and crescent,
past Ataturk a thousand times.
I am in love.
Always happy moving toward, moving,
tall son beside me full of the history of Troy,
of hot gözleme and fresh orange juice from road stops
where the bus is washed clean as a mountain spring.
Tonight children on the bus spoke quietly.
This is a place of patience, respect,
as other country spaces once were.
On this overnight ride, no mobile phones.
Just silence, faint hum of wheels, chirring vibrations of engine.
Sleeping bodies bounce over potholes on soft springs,
steward having brought cake and apple tea.
The dark drifts in as we sway into midnight.
Across the aisle, a fine-boned man remains awake
hand silk-skinned where it lies an arm’s length from me,
lovely veins slightly skimming its surface, a delta
from subtle streams. Greying moustache, eyes are
soft brown as his worn suede shoes, suit
a little baggy, old khaki green and brown,
nondescript, its thin mustard stripe barely there.
He’s going home, the signs are there –
his body ready in anticipation, his wakefulness.
I think – someone loves that curl of his greying hair,
the wave it took to reach its crest,
faint creases round the eyes, coffee dark,
his wrist at rest, fingers strong and rough-edged,
lands reached after a long journey, after longing.
Beyond him through the window, a salt-white full moon,
huge and marbled-blue, is spreading a shaken-foil pathway
across the lake beneath. Flowing in through the glass frame,
silvering his hair, my arm,
we are scooped into its shining link
on the uneven road to Göreme.
Then, stunned suddenly by a change of light,
together our gaze turns to windows my side of the bus.
A ruby sun rises in tandem with the moon,
a perfection of unearthly balance,
and the pink granite quarry beneath glows roseate in pre-dawn.
His smile is coming like spring, opening, surprised
straight to me, eye to eye.
because of what we saw, what we shared.
No language but lips curving in awe.
It made me breathless, all of it, and I thought –
compared to the riches of Sultans, this would be my choice.
© Robyn Rowland