Istanbul, Turkey

Intermezzo 14: Izolda

Marietta, I’m sitting in a café by a bridge across the Bosphorus, trying to keep the sadness at bay. I watch the shoe-shine boys, the dogs, the fortune-tellers; I drop a coin into a blind man’s cup: I am no more a stranger here than anywhere; there is no country I call foreign, no country I call home. But when you desired me I had an address, when you wanted me I belonged somewhere… Over the water the sun is setting, the domes and minarets are silhouetted against the sky, but what is their beauty compared to the amber of your eyes? An orange haze hangs over the hills, there’s a blue cast to the buildings below, but what care my eyes for these colours when they have seen your hair turn the breeze gold? Across the bridge cars go by, suspended lights link the shores: Can it really be easier to link Europe and Asia than to unite us once more?

Clarinet and long-necked lute, goblet drum and oud: I like this music, Marietta, it soothes my longing for you. The singer’s got liquid eyes, expressive hands, and a voice of varied hue; she’s got a jewelled bra, an ankle bracelet, and a skirt of electric blue: But she’s not you… Silently the Bosphorus hauls its history to the sea, silently I tell the story of you and me: Marietta, can you hear me? In darkness I evoke these memories, in darkness I try to bring you back to me. To what good? Tomorrow like today, no woman in a crowd will turn around when I call your name, no ‘Hi’ in your voice will answer my ‘Hello’ when I pick up the telephone. Tomorrow like today, I will not find you among the press of people at the dock; at the station, I will seek your face in vain.

Mara Marietta