SUE LITTLETON: Poems of Istanbul
THE SCARF SELLER
THE STREETS OF ISTANBUL
DUSK IN ISTANBUL
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THE SCARF SELLER THE STREETS OF ISTANBUL DUSK IN ISTANBUL  

THE SCARF SELLER
In the golden brick-paved courtyard at the front of the sprawling glory of the Blue Mosque the scarf sellers spread their wares, neatly folded to show color and design. The Turkish women use these smooth squares to cover their hair, wrapping the folded ends so their faces are framed in silk, the apex of the design centered on their heads like an elegant hat. I sit on the curb at the side of the walk to haggle over the price of nineteen of these huge silk scarves printed with gay arabesques, dyed in gentle monotones. The scarf-seller, a tall, striking woman who reminds me of a gypsy, insists on making a seat for me with a doubled scarf (it is January, and the weather is damp and cold). We rely on her handsome, unsmiling son ten years old, he tells me in careful, broken English to translate my offers. The woman and I talk, and smile at each other; her pride in her son is obvious, this child who can speak the foreigner's language, who advises and protects her, shaking his head and frowning when I offer too small a price. It does not matter how many you buy, he tells me earnestly, A what you give is for each one what it costs us. It is her stern father-in-law, sitting a short distance away on a rickety wooden chair, like a king on his throne, who is consulted by his grandson and who sets the final price. When I rise to leave with my purchases, I spontaneously draw the boy to me and brush his cheek with a kiss. He pulls back in horror, and I blush at what must have been an unpardonable familiarity. He stands glaring at me, rubbing his face, as I scurry off. The next day I am so ashamed at my success in bargaining and my lack of cultural understanding that I return, anxious to press more money on the scarf seller but the little family group is gone. I do not see them again, although I search the courtyard of the mosque each day until we leave.
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THE SCARF SELLER THE STREETS OF ISTANBUL DUSK IN ISTANBUL  


THE STREETS OF ISTANBUL
We walk through the winding, cobbled streets, laughing and shaking our heads "No, no!" as insistent young boys with fluting voices approach us peddling postcards of mosque and museum. Beneath our feet, in the underground depths of the old Roman cistern, the tall columns plundered from a Greek temple built two thousand years ago are reflected endlessly in the quiet black water to the accompaniment of the recorded music of Vivaldi. Pretty teenage girls, their black hair covered demurely with monochrome scarves of every hue and geometric pattern, discreetly matching the subdued colors of their ankle-length coats, chatter and giggle in small groups. Here and there a boy and girl walk side by side, dark eyes smiling into dark eyes. Once, in the gardens between the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, I see, with a faint sense of shock, a young married couple with a sturdy little boy running and skipping ahead of them; she is dressed in the traditional chador, covered from head to foot in black, only her eyes visible. Her husband and son are wearing jeans and bright plaid shirts.
SUE LITTLETON: Poems of Istanbul
POETRYREPAIRS 13.02: 018
Poetry endangers the established order  of the soul - Plato

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THE SCARF SELLER THE STREETS OF ISTANBUL DUSK IN ISTANBUL  


DUSK IN ISTANBUL
From the window of the little hotel we watch as the full moon combs her hair across the Sea of Marmara in glittering ripples. The nasal broadcast of an imam's ritual prayer spills from the height of a slender minaret to entwine with the distant sounds of traffic, the peddlers' shouts, the bustle of the ancient city greeting the evening.
SUE LITTLETON: Poems of Istanbul
POETRYREPAIRS 13.02: 018
SUE LITTLETON: Poems of Istanbul

THE SCARF SELLER
THE STREETS OF ISTANBUL
DUSK IN ISTANBUL
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