Christine Stewart-Nuñez On History at the Cistern Istanbul Above ground I search concrete ledges, scour a four-lane street, pick apart a park and a statue of Ataturk, and try to imagine Constantinople, the Ottoman Empire, Turkish troops marching toward a Republic. Instead I see scenes someone else described: a river red with Armenian blood, boys hiding in building rafters-- stories passed through generations by Kurds and Christians. Underground I seek evidence of ``truth'' in a city's layers, layers like a cake, rich sponginess sealed by sugar to amplify what's underneath or mask it. Like the ruins of Troy (or what could be Troy) layers of city upon city settled to sand. But I digress; even cake has context, especially here where ``cake'' is hard like helva and chefs boil desserts. Besides, Turks built the wooden horse for tourists. I start over, look closer, walk along the cistern's bridges to view pillars pillaged from foreign temples. Here's one with Medusa's head, cheek submerged in water. Before men dragged her by horse, she was turned to stone--not the men who disassembled her temple. Perhaps the myth's 91 villain saw her own reflection. A layer of rock. A layer of water.
Prairie Schooner – University of Nebraska Press
Published: May 11, 2008