Statement of Record

Two Poems by Caroline Stockford


Two Poems by Caroline Stockford


Walk like an Ephesian

I used to hang out at the House of Love
its signage a heart in marble, a foot
for direction. Once there,
mosaics of the seasons.
I’d sit on windowsill empty of glass, house
vacant of senators. Listening 
to tour guides’ musical schpiel
telling how leading lights 
of this house of love 
sallied forth to front
the annual festival of Ephesus.
Lovemakers followed by lawmakers.

I attended an opera 
at the Celsus Library. Stone
gone philosophers gazing
down at the diva, hiking her
skirt up steep steps, she let
out her inner voice, Debussy’s
cats scaled columns to night.
An owl wafted down feathery
to a broken doric topping,
saluting the singer with hoo-hoo
each time she paused at
breath’s cliff edge.
Laughter, applause,
her suitor flew away.    

Joan Baez came and played, 
amphitheatre made by
Pythagoras of Samos, seating
twenty-three thousand.
That night poor folks
filled the back mountain.
Love, that hot balloon perpetual high
filled open air as far
as we could see.
She sang “Swing Low
Sweet Chariot,” unaccompanied.
Ankle bells giggling
each sound as sharp
as Praxiteles intended.
Among the stones, quartz, 
that indomitable scribe 
recorded all.




Berzan shared one post 
by Robert Fisk and went to jail.
I flew in over the holy mountain.

Descending to the sandy field.
We ate Urfa kebabs. We three from 
Istanbul. One, a great lawyer.  

The father kept three thousands books. 
Five of them banned. 
The police blamed Berzan.

Image beamed from prison,
hands behind his back. 
Standing in a cubicle.

Facts and the Convention
sweated the judicial panel like a
cold jar of water in the sun.

Sitting by his mother 
Her metronome of tears and prayers,
a steady counter-narrative to the judge. 

Alarmed that I had come. 
He shook his robe. 
“A foreigner?!”

I spoke: 
“I’ve journeyed from Vienna
to see

the rule of law upheld today in Turkey
And Berzan is a journalist.”
The judge let Berzan out on bail. 

We declined a celebration meal, 
smiled at the men from Diyarbakır.
Shook hands and said goodbye.

* * * 

Next day we hired a car 
drove to the mountain palace
incomparable ruin of Doğubeyazıt. 

White feather sitting on steps 
to nowhere. An ornate door led down. 
Seven long cells, each lower than the next.

One window, set high, chains waiting.
Seventh cell, dark, full of movement, 
pushed me away with upraised arm.

this stuff is thick, will stick
to your clean coat like tar, and ride 
your shoulder out

to fresh air, 
like a dripping gargoyle,
hitching a lift

to light, to allies, 
new niches 
of evil, so go!”

I sprang, ascended
to the best rooms, 
through the smoke-charred circus 

of the kitchen
to windows with a vista 
of plains upon plains over plains. 

desolate, lonely, wistful, 
rooms for alchemists and armfuls 
of imprisoned princesses.

I placed the necklace 
my blacksmith made me 
in an alabaster alcove,

“oh you who walked here 
give me all you know, let me hear 
what you hear.

highest romance
so alone 
with everything. 

On the way down the mountain, 
I took useless photos on my phone. 
Could have stood in awe for weeks. 

Ararat possessed me. 
More handsome 
than any man I’ve seen.

About the author

Caroline Stockford is a poet, translator, and human rights activist living in Bristol, UK. Her poems have been published in Into the Void, Gard Magazine, Sharp as Lemons, Make Time for Aberystwyth, and at Burning House Press. She runs two Turkey-focussed projects for PEN Norway. Her translation of Haydar Karataş's epic true story about the Dersim massacres in Turkey, Butterfly of the Night, comes out with Palewell Press in Summer 2021. Caroline is from Barmouth in North Wales.

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