I am growing old here in Turkey among the Ahmets.
They are good and serious and polite and focused
on history: the Balkans, the French, the Armenians,
Atatürk in Greece, the British in Gallipoli,
and Joyce squinting at Dante in a Dublin pub.
I love this Ahmet who's brought baklava and drives
a Turkish car and listens to Albanian pop.
His music’s wonderful and my espresso's gone.
The burden of history is upon us as he scratches
his beard and arranges his notes, and I wonder
about Ohio State's running-back situation next fall,
by which time he’ll have written two chapters,
and me a few hundred drafts of this poem,
and my daughter will have taken 135 baths
and begged for ice cream all those afternoons.
Would she care if SpongeBob were a Western spy?
Or what her father means as he asks Ahmet
about Atatürk's relationship with Islam?
And I say this loud, and a lady named Aslıhan nods,
and soon everybody in the coffee shop nods,
not at me and not at Ahmet, but because they desire
here in Istanbul to be a part of history beyond
the bus fares and the jostling, the standing in line—
looking past me over the Bosphorus toward
the inescapable truth that we're all to be forgotten.
CARL BOON was born and raised in Ohio, and earned his doctorate from Ohio University in 2007. Since 2008, he has been living and teaching in Istanbul, Turkey. He is currently a member of the Faculty of Letters at Istanbul Yeni Yuzyil University where he also serves as English prep school director.