Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Poem a Day 23: One Day

The first time I made baklava,
honey and walnuts strewn between
thin layers of phyllo,
I remembered that stay in Istanbul, 
the stars shimmering as we walked
along narrow, cobblestone streets,
back to our hotel, our hearts
full of what we had seen at Topkapi Palace,
connecting rooms and gardens
where sultans and harems 
were once a way of life;
the shop where an eager salesman
held up carpets made entirely of silk
that shimmered in the morning light,
all for us to admire, perhaps to buy;
the tea seller, strolling through the gardens
across from Hagia Sophia,  
who carried hot tea all ready to serve,
with near a hundred little clear glasses 
hung with cords around his body;
and Chora Church, now an Ottoman Empire Mosque,
its walls glazed with intricate tiles,
where Muslim men wore brown felt turbans, 
their long white skirts swirling out with each turn, 
their dancing, a prayer. 

I pull out a quilt book and wonder again
if I will ever make a quilt to honor
those Iznik tiles, every shade of blue
and coral red, with shapes to capture  
those once unique Turkish flowers:
tulips, carnations, roses, peonies, and violets.
Where is that royal bird, the peacock,
whose cry resembles a shriek,
yet who turns and flashes its feathers and turns again?
Somehow all is entwined in the history of this place,
once the center of the world between East and West,
once Constantinople, now Istanbul, 
hundreds of years have passed and will pass. 
I study anew these patterns
and know I will make such a quilt, one day.

Whirling Dervish, Chora, Istanbul (2004)

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (2004)
Construction begun 360 A.D. Completed 537 A.D.


  1. Thanks for the memories, so eloquently shared.

    1. I'm glad we have those memories to share from such an unforgettable trip.

  2. Your poem takes us there!

    1. Thank you, as always! How wonderful memories are.