Çiğbörek, Çiğbörek

Şehremini, İstanbul’s Tatar neigborhood early 50’s

Mother softly sings along 
with a barely audible tune from the radio,
which fills the room with what is almost a melody,
disrupted with static and scratchy sounds.

Zekiye, exclaims my Grandma, kneading,
and wakes my mother from her floating dreams:
Listen to my instructions,
watch carefully what I do.
She adjusts her scarf with the back of her hand.

Our farm near Bahçesaray mocked the horizons,
our orchard invented each spring
new colors for figs, new flavors 
for blackberries and peaches!
She pushes her fist into the shapeless dough.

O those corrupt traitors with paunches
deeper than bottomless pits!
Our Khan should have poured molten lava,
– as your late father used to say – 
down their treacherous throats.

Her hands are covered with white flour,
gobs of dough stuck to her fingers.
The way I mix this minced beef,
the way I mold this dough,
this simple dish, Çiğbörek, 
with its noble celestial shape
is the only thing left to us
from our beloved land, our Crimea.







My Grandma turns off the radio.

Half an hour later, they’ll walk
into our dining room carrying together
a tray of heaped half-moons
to a table surrounded by the whole family:
Father, my two older brothers and three young sisters
aunts, uncles, husbands, wives, and kids,
and also the four young students
living next door far away from their homes,
are silent as athletes at a starting-line,
not only eyes, but bodies and souls
fixed to the exact spot 
where the immense plate is going to land,
tense so as not to be one second late
in responding to grandma’s magical words 

Bereketli bolsın! 
Abundance to this table, 
blessings to you all! 

And for a moment we all be transformed into nothing but hungering mouths.
No thoughts of Bahçesaray.
No cares for the orchards mocking the horizon. 
No one will cry for awhile
for our lost ancestral land, Crimea.