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Istanbul is My Heart’s Hometown

I see its kittens playing hide and seek around

Mossy, lichen-crowned stones carved in Greek

Or perhaps between the tombstones of dervishes

While a sea air, the city’s lungs

Carries the scent of salty journeys

I love her ancient painted churches

And grand mosques

In which each tile alone is a masterpiece

How can a place be both so stately and so intimate?

I could walk through the Egyptian bazaar

With my eyes closed

To remember the smell of spices

And olive oil soaps

For a lifetime.

Cats, seagulls, and the call to prayer

The song of the boza seller

The rattle of a streetcar

The clatter of hookah-smoking tavla players

The clink of the tulip tea glasses

The smoky scent of grilling meat

Or perhaps the sweetness of chestnuts

Or the mellow earthiness of roasting corn.

I was not born in Istanbul

But something of me was born there.

And it belongs to me

And I to it

Like a mysterious lover

With a surprising sweetness that matures like a grape.

Istanbul is my heart’s hometown.

Embraced in an ancient dream

That I carry wherever I go.

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