By Steve Rubinstein
Still awake and on fire at 4 a.m.
we are insects buzzing
in palace trees below
between lintel and sill
dust settling, pollen
on forgotten wine.
We pause in silence
rise to a clear morning
wail beneath the Blue Mosque
amid the old city atop
a jumbled scaffold of saffron beams.
Blue skates carve helium turns overhead.
Dawn emerges ochre and steaming.
The Bosporus is a widening shadow of freight.
One thing I noticed about this poem is how it sets up a location without telling you exactly where said location is and what it looks like. The lines, especially in the first half set up a mix between urban and natural. While it’s impossible to guess what time period this would hypothetically take place in, many of the words used give it the feeling of a long forgotten golden age. “We are insects buzzing” suggests that the poem is told through either literal insects, or the word “insect” is being used as a metaphor for a person which is very interesting to think about. I appreciate the subtlety used in this poem.
Poetry is such an interesting way to tell a story, and this is exactly why I love it. The imagery this conjures is so vivid it’s crazy. I love the emphasis on color, and the specificity of the shades you’re describing. You’re setting a scene here, an impressively fleshed out one with so little words, and yet it’s not spelled out for us. The meaning behind the poem feels ambiguous, up to interpretation, and yet—it’s emotive. I felt somehow melancholy and also hopeful during the reading of this.