disappearing – Halee Isil Cosar

Wow they kill eighty thousand of our men
And we get a street named after the battle
Gelibolu
Gallipoli parade
Is parallel to the railway
Right in the heart of it is our mosque

Walking through its gates
I’m being beamed up to Istanbul
A rose garden, tea house, courtyard, fountain for ablution,
Gorgeous Iznik tiles in signature ottoman red and blue
(My people have a hard time adjusting to new places)

Some days you will see a group
On a tour of the mosque

In Ramadan it lights up
Inviting and embracing

Other days you will see Turkish men
Sitting leisurely on plastic chairs
Flicking their prayer beads
More from habit than devotion

But not today
today
We are here for funeral prayers
The deceased was like my uncle

One by one my dad’s friends are disappearing
whooooosh the first big Turkish Waves
Are vanishing
As they sprinkle our faces with mist and salt

I know each flow must have an ebb
Every river must merge with the ocean
Even stars shoot across the horizon

But I have trouble even reciting the Fatiha –
the opening chapter every Muslim knows
I remember how hard my dad and his friends worked
To teach us our roots, our words, our prayers
In this mosque they built
In the schools they built

They will no longer gather
In houses they shared
Three, four families under one roof
Where they sipped tea from elegant glasses
Named after Turkish waitresses –
Served by their fat wives
They will no longer gather
In Turkish school car parks
To complain about us
They will no longer gather at
Men’s only cafes
Where they joked like boys
and smoked like chimneys
And times of trouble
drank like infidels

From now they will gather
In the Muslim quarters
Of Rookwood