Travel Advisory for Turkey

Travel Advisory for Turkey

My husband and I both are keen to travel to Turkey. This poem "Travel Advisory for Turkey" was prompted by that desire and the devastating violence that has been a constant in Turkey of recent. I let my imagination capture the sights, sounds, smells and history of Turkey. I was delighted that the Winston-Salem Writers chose "Travel Advisory for Turkey" for their 2016 anthology Flying South.


Travel Advisory for Turkey


--A suicide bomber killed five including two Americans, and injured 36 others in a busy tourist area in Istanbul.  March 19, 2016


I will not meander the Spice Bazaar maze in Istanbul,

past the sacks of psychedelic colored baharat and herbs.

I won’t inhale cumin, sumac, saffron and mint.

I will not bring home tuzlu nuts and Turkish Delight

or know the bolt of Arabica coffee sipped from a demitasse

with a bite of beyaz peynir cheese.


I will not heed the imam call to prayers,

look to the minarets to guide me to the Sultanamhet mosque,

wrap my Pashmina over my head, shoulders, slip off my shoes

find my place among the women,

stand, kneel, touch my head to carpet, stand.

The prayers a requiem for the dead, the dying.


I will not haggle with the rug dealer as he and his cousins

roll open another hand-knotted Anatolian carpet, blood

red, starred with indigo and gold blossoms.

“This one. Ma’am, this one best for you.”

It will not arrive on my doorstep months later

wrapped in burlap, unfurling a scent of shisha smoke.


I will not see girls, braids bouncing as they skip

to the jump rope’s beat, the sing-song song.

Boys dribbling, rising to layup, block an imaginary basket.

The ball tapping from outstretched hand to hand,

skittering off down the dirt alley, mothers pulling

aside curtain doorways to scold.


I will not eat charred sheep kebaps

or drink rati and pick lüfer off the bone by the Bosphorus

imagining Ottoman trading ships navigating its length.

I will not journey to the Hattusas

as the sun illuminates history, stories, what remains

from thieves, Pergamon’s curators, ancient battles


like this war: the remnant of an Imperial tapestry,

a lost province, gaming foreign powers, the Euphrates

knotted near the border, its mouth burned dry.


Heidi Seaborn

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