Tasting Roses

Ankara was a place of smells that I drank for two years

I was quickly intoxicated, and now remember, especially, the scent of miniature roses

The woman with the head cloth and dark skin and plastic sandals

Would bring bunches of them

In big, blue buckets,

Carrying them down to the market-place early in the morning

Before competing smells could intrude

Roses were cheap, and often I would treat myself ,

For just 1000 Lira a piece to four or five,

And would press them to my nose as I walked through the city

I would grip the long stems, inhaling that first clean breath, thorns in my hands,

Not even feeling them burrow there,

And I would let the leaves caress my cheeks, nose, mouth,

The centers opening like clams as I walked,

Revealing the pearl–a pink, soft center

Day after day, I would wander through the crowds going nowhere in particular,

My roses replacing the old familiar smells of ekmek, Delight, exhaust, and body odor

All the time I was breathing in the centers, the petals kept falling back further; still

Nothing could stop me from drinking the smell of miniature roses,

Nothing could make me loosen my hold and release the thorns from my skin

Sometimes, I would even return to the market-place as it was closing down,

Out of breath, roses hanging limp heads over my white grip,

The sound of the man in the minaret calling everyone to worship,

Just to see if the woman with the blue buckets had thrown any unsold roses on the

Pavement that I could collect and walk away with,

And again, pull my air from their life

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