I don’t know her name. I don’t know
what she gathers of life
when she stands
in the morning
before the stove, her hair perhaps
a calamity, waiting on the kettle.
I see her at work,
ascetic with a rag, a tray of tea-
cups going room to room,
the Kerouac angelic lost-soul
comrade who says to me
it’s very cold outside, my feet are
cold inside my shoes. My boys went
inside this cold with cold toast
in their hands this morning. I am
paid not well for polishing
these railings, this mirror.
I hope one day to have enough.
We share the same bus.

Our bus skirts the Erdem Street
Cemetery every morning,
acres of white stones
touched only by rain. I watch her
looking out the window
and reciting the names
carved on those stones: Hayriye
Teken, Yasemin Unal, Can
One day hers. I don’t know
her name. I don’t know
the weather that makes
her wrists ache, the scars
on her chest more pronounced.
We are foreigners
to each other, the vowels
inside our mouths different,
our perceptions and leanings, too,
toward the cemetery trees
when we decide to walk.