First Poem – 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

 

Some 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