A half mile from the Black Sea
you lounge and tan in your yard.
Cruise ships gloat in the harbor.
A rail line chuffs toward Russia
with smug diesel effort towing
white tank-car loads of chemicals.
You’ve lived here long enough
to forget how America shapes
nature to fuel its contentment.
I’m here to see the Hittite ruins,
the local museum with bronze
and ceramic shards, the ancient road
still paved with rutted limestone.
I didn’t expect you to recall
our dazed afternoon in Vermont
lying exhausted in bed while children
percolated in meadow grass
and deer from the Taconics browsed
in the abandoned orchards behind
your rented house. Now in Turkey,
a woman living alone, you fret
about nothing. You lack wrinkles,
despite your age, and your body
shines like a Richard Serra sculpture.
As we chat about old times the trains
rasp along their uneven track
and a foghorn snorts in the harbor.
The Hittites never saw women
like you, but your Islamic neighbors
wave and greet you with cheerful bursts
of Arabic, which you return
with local accent. The Hittites
lived so long ago the planet
barely recalls their presence.
It won’t remember us at all,
but the sparks we used to generate
lit up much of the unknown world.
Too bad we never explored it.
The chemical cars rattle and clank
and the salt-smell flavors our talk.
When I leave to visit the ruins
I’ll retain the impress of your pose
and impose it on the ancient rubble
like a dusty sun-colored kiss.