Two Poems

An Istanbul Snowfall 1963

Snow seldom falls in Istanbul
but when it does
it’s very cold for eastern bones
temperatures dip to 0 centigrade, then
creep up quickly as sun appears
at dawn;
for that's when my local baker
finds his bread not rising:
“Too cold, too cold” he says
in broken English; “Yvet,” I say
walking to buy our morning loaf
of crusty brown, toddler on my hip;
we stop to touch the snow  
which she has never seen.

The baker speaks  
through his stone window
reaching out to touch her:
“Aaah... cigi bebek, cigi bebek,
she okay,” pinching her cheeks…

in honor of all babes blessed
in Turkey— through sun and rain and snow —
these all-weather messengers 
are worshiped
swaddled
protected
by that self-same blanket used
to keep them warm or cool

secure as you might find a native-child
strapped to a board — immobile
in rain and snow and sun,
no arms flailing like babes today
in my mid-western town,
mothers frantic to cries of colic
wracked with storms far louder
than any snow-thunder day.

But what if babies couldn’t cry
for some preternatural reason?
Their lips sealed by too much snow
piled deep on North Dakota plains
where snow could gather high
atop sod houses
which mothers — left alone while husbands
worked the rails — could not find sufficient
air for fire to burn, until the woman climbed
outside and worked her way through drifts
atop her roof, permitting fresh air in to
feed the flames and welcome her child's
cries as music to near-frozen ears
with joy returning
like a Dancing Bear
and gypsy
heard far away in Istanbul
from my balcony…

where snow seldom falls
but when it does, children
come out to play
thin coats
thinner shoes
no hats, no mittens
running in their flip-flops to slide
as if on skates or skis they see on
TV, falling frequently to laugh
on cobbled streets old as
Constantine himself with his matching
aqueducts built a thousand years ago
still standing near my home this day —
grey against a whitened sky
trying to collect and
carry rain throughout the empire;
for this blessed snow and rain
will end in aqueducts, paying
homage to all water of our lives
returning to me as I watch the
neighbor-children sliding along
the rooftop of this building

where we live, me hanging diapers 
of rows and rows and more rows
in some never-ending stream 
of snowy white.

 

Doubt #12: A month to dual revelations

What we saw in San Francisco Bay
was bliss
so lonely
along the beach
I had to pick it up.

A solitary stone.

I stopped to bend, remembering
you and I had camped that very spot
along the sand. 
I even found the place where our fire-ring
lay, though tonight it seemed colder
by the minute, the ring sitting quiet 
and empty as if a starry-moth had 
turned ashen-white while fluttering 
in my palm.    

Back then, do you
remember
our tent was always filled with boiling water
to make our coffee, tea, sometimes that special
drink you said only I could make.  I believed
you then

until one day, as we
were driving to San Francisco in search
of nursing rockers
for child three
(who was kicking hard as we looked,
he the one within my belly)—

your eyes focused
only on a photo
deep inside your head--
you would not even say her name;

so when I asked which rocker
you answered nothing, thereby forcing
me to tell the clerk:  "We want the dark
one--have it shipped today,” I said;

and when you turned the car toward Oakland
the light turned darker than one hour before
sunset--and
recalling my expectancy
I watched your darkness fade,
releasing only bits of light
to rest beneath the waters — you and
child remaining quiet
for only one more month of revelation.


Linda Newman Woito

Linda Newman Woito

Linda Newman Woito, Middleton, Wisconsin, is a retired attorney who likes to write poetry and short fiction, and spend time with her grandsons. You can find her poetry in The Rockford Review, Poetry NZ, Spin, Main Street Rag, The Pen Woman, and James Dickey Review, among others. A chapbook entitled Restless Bird (RWG 2008) was published in 2008, and she has won several poetry awards including monetary prizes.