Famagusta

(after Cavafy)

I was there once, you know: in Famagusta.

It was just ten years after the war. Now

The whole island is open, except Famagusta.

Then the Green Line was hard as Berlin, but

We were diplomats. Everything was ours. We

Strode the runway of the shelled airport,

Swam like fish in Kyrenia's empty harbor,

Scaled silent, windy Crusader castles.

I was ten: some late, inferior impression

Of the Corfu of the Durrells: and still

A real 20th-century colonial childhood.

The 1900s have melted into air like water.

The North is open, and ruined I'm sure,

Full of package bullnecks out of Gatwick.

Alas, we get just one life to be selfish.

But we went there once, too: to Famagusta,

That empty city—almost forty years ago,

Still held as a concrete poker chip

In an old, cold, rotten Levantine war—

'70s Peugeots rusting in the showrooms,

Plates set for breakfast like Chernobyl, 

Classic prints in the Thomas Cook window.

What do I remember? I was a kid. I think

We went in some ruins, not new, Venetian.

Today as we drove uphill from the bay

How could I stop from thinking: was today

The last day our feet felt Famagusta? I

Know the answer. No such luck. Not only

Are we not Turks—we aren't even Greeks.

But there are many of these Famagustas.

You will get there, you know: to Famagusta.