River’s Flame

for Istanbul, Ankara, Çanakkale, Troy

each night we slept in a holy place, a place
in which one hangs clothes on barb wire, in which
a young boy’s face becomes one of the women selling tea—

rain fell and made rivers on their skin / now they carry the dried riverbeds

a face becomes a memory of a river and I promise
I will never describe your face
but the memory of it grows like algae.

I will never describe your face nor speak
of the saltwater of the newscast,
how some deaths do not even leave us bones

to kiss. there are only the bronze tea cups,
a fear of never calling anything beautiful, not the way
the moon’s luminous lake drowned each city

as Imam’s chant knotted into the traffic
to awake us, and not the single fig tree, not your face.