Mennonite Poetry Home | Leonard Neufeldt



Namaz* at Dawn

The notebook new, empty except for
I wonder how it will be without poetry and then
without words
. This is the time a notebook
leaves me here, alone, the time stars grow small
and night is taken away over the high ridge
that loses its edge to light breathing past
a silhouette of windmills and watch-tower ruins.
My feet feel the full length of all-night bars,
coffee houses, unlit balconies and the sea’s
meniscus of lines in the sand where stray dogs
stretch away the hurt of the boardwalk’s
laddered dark and the deeper dark of boards
removed for paving stones stacked like amphorae
to replace them. A dragonfly’s

filigree of wings turns transparent
in a slipstream of light. In and out
of time, between water and a yacht’s
rise and fall steady as an anchored
heart. Along the public pier small rings
grow large where fish nosed up a moment ago
to feed, where a man inside his towel
walks head down to the far end as though
to absorb the immensity of the muezzin’s
amen and a donkey’s morning desires
echoing far into the hush. The bather
enters a half-halo of water, divides it like a seal,
changes course to find the sun

and I find the key’s brass bulk
in my pocket. I know where home is.
Step around a dog. Nod to the woman
leaving the bakery, a loaf in each hand,
her shoulder bag empty. Put away
my notebook’s false start and aftermath
of empty pages. No need
to turn them over and over, to fill vacancy
with what might have been, to say that day
is here and needs an answer lest
it mingle like Bitez with our lives
or with the impatience of infants wakened
by the muezzin and the donkey, fretting
one at a time and then in chorus

There is much that will not change today —
the day’s warm drift like the coming and going
of tourists, the journalist at the Shah Hotel
who put down fork and knife last evening
to say that Torontonians are not at all like Turks,
the main street’s name that means heaven’s door,
construction workers sipping morning chay
through toothbrush mustache
black as missing teeth

                                   or the small snake
that lives in the stone wall next door
and does no harm to anyone.
May it live for a thousand years


*Namaz: Turkish word for Azan, the Muslim call to prayer.

©Leonard Neufeldt. Painting Over Sketches of Anatolia (Signature Editions, 2015).




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