TO MODERN THERMAL
Beyond our windows morning tips splashes of light
into the Sea of Mamara
as we prepare for today's adventure—
Today – today we are going to Thermal,
the natural thermal springs where the Ataturk,
the mighty politician
known as “The Father of the Turks” went to relax.
(It was the Ataturk who pulled Turkey into the 20th century
by sheer charismatic political strength.)
It's January, 37 degrees Fahrenheit—misty, cold,
as we travel by another plump dowager boat
and then a sturdy public bus,
driving past small hamlets and fields and orchards
before we finally reach foothills and pine forest
studded with the many modern buildings
surrounding the Springs.
At first we are taken to a small, dim, moldy little room
with a huge concrete bathtub.
Then we decide, no, better outside in the cold
than this grim place!
We walk past an elegant white building
filled with shouts and laughter
where Turks are happily enjoying the thermal springs
under a curved roof.
We walk a little further and are enchanted
by the great open blue pool,
its steaming expanse spread under the sunless sky,
completely empty of people.
The two of us and a pool for two hundred –
changing into our bathing suits
in the tidy louvered dressing cubicles
(have I ever been this bare in a place this cold??
we plunge, shivering, into the wonderful 130 degree water –
until it becomes unbearably hot,
then out to cool off .. until it becomes too cold,
and again we fling ourselves
into that divine, all-enveloping warmth.