Red-Letter December

We left our shoes outside the Blue Mosque
and wandered acres of carpet spread inside,
no pew or table anywhere, the space
uninterrupted under muffled light.

I felt a sort of tenderness toward them
and watched them move away in ones and twos,
drifting toward the many-paneled walls,
blue tiles flashing tiny in the murk.

The group of us an accident, the room
we shared a hostel-owner’s winter thrift,
where last night I was summoned to a phone call
announcing death at home, asking how soon
I could return—the deskman watching,
waiting to hang up the hostel phone.

We lingered a last hour in the mosque’s
eternal dusk, the high and tiny windows.
Their glowing T-shirts swam above the carpets,
moving slow, they smiled as they passed
where I stood still half-dazed in the center,
suspended, almost bobbing, in the calm.