To dance is to remember

by Christopher Stein

 

To dance in the gardens at Topkapı
is to stir up the breeze on the Dardanelles,
and send the shepherds singing to the sea.

You can taste antemurale christianitatis crumbling;
the gasp it gives out as it gives way rocks
history like a glass of hemlock or an asp’s kiss.

The chain of time like the chain of Golden Horn
does not break, bobs gently in the swells of emotion.

Burnished silver by the moon and alternately
gilded by the glare of flame, great sheets of it
flapping through the night, oddly silent.

To dance in the gardens at Topkapı
is to remember the night they spun fire
like wool and laid it around the city, a bier.

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