In Istanbul

(After Child Ballad 53: Young Beichan)

You came
                from a strange land, all that
                dwelling, but not
                halfways here, wearing strangeness
like dust
                in your hair, you
linger in my kitchen.
                I’ve felt your chest’s
irregular tattoo
                - footfall on Thameside
the difficult music
                of sailors, the night tide
sluice and suck of it.
                Storks muster over
the Bosphorus, swinging south
                to Africa. You too
must leave.
                I chop mint
sensing something terrible
                might happen
a slip, a fall           
                - a storm or wreck
an ambush in an alley.
                I won’t know
when they find you at dawn
                bloodied and limp
wonder why you strayed

Tim Cresswell is a geographer and poet. He has been widely published in poetry magazines in the US, United Kingdom and beyond. He has poems in, for instance, The Moth, the Rialto, the North, Magma, Poetry Wales, Salamader and Riddlefence. His collections, Soil and Fence were published by Penned in the Margins (London).