In Tarsus

By Jeanine Stevens

Strong colors, backdrop of cream and orange buildings in the sun.

Tourists come to see a rubbled Roman road. In my digital camera,

 

a woman crouches behind the chain link fence, watching.

Almost hidden in large shrubs heavy with summer’s dust,

 

she looks intently, peacock bright scarf, long sleeved black dress.

The childlike face seems smooth but brows cut by a deep crease

 

between gray eyes, lids tired as a tulip’s fallen petals. Hands grasp

the fence, hands asking for nothing. Rutted palms almost obscure

 

her lifelines. Nails short and scraggly, thumbs enveloped in soft

wrinkles, she could be an echo of ancient tribes, inheritor

 

of the bargain table. Perhaps a meek survivor who has been here

for centuries gathering impressions of her own. I do not know

 

who will inherit this earth or who remembers the original trade routes.

I do notice the machine stitching on her cuff is expertly done.

 

~After a photograph

___

Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at U.C. Davis, and has an M.A. in Anthropology. Winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt and one of two finalists for the William Stafford Prize. Author of Sailing on Milkweed, her latest chapbook is “Needle in the Sea,” from Tiger’s Eye Press. Poems have appeared in Poet LoreEvansville ReviewPearlNorth Dakota ReviewPerfume RiverAlehouse and Quercus Review.


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