by Pamela Newham

Cyprus airport one a.m.
Two women waiting for a flight.
Around us suntanned holidaymakers
stretch out on metal benches
as a tinny voice announces again
our flight has been delayed.

Two dark-eyed boys with stubble chins
want to buy us red wine.
We say no but they tell us
they are Iranians no one wants
and have been in transit for days.
So we let them buy us wine
and when they come back
they pile pistachios on the table.

They tell us they are taxi drivers
and we pretend to believe
their wild tales and they
pretend to be shocked
when they hear
they are half our age.
We laugh and flirt tasting
the saltiness of the pistachios
and the roughness of the wine
until finally they call our flight
and we hug like old friends
or maybe lovers.

An unexpected adventure
so many years ago and yet
whenever I slide my nail between
the slick shell and crack open
a pistachio I recall a hot night
and boys nobody wanted.




Tourist Attraction

by Cornelia Rohde

A brazen face shouts, “Five chickens.”
Another raises him to ten.
A third ups the ante with “Six camels;”
zoos of dowry offered
for my auburn haired daughter,
as if I’m leading her as calf to slaughter.

The young hotel clerk melts
when she asks him directions.
(I think he just kissed her room key.)
He seems to have twenty-four hour duty,
or else he’s hanging around for her beauty.

The souk teems with moony young louts,
who offer to show us about, find the best deals,
bring us home to their mother for tea.
We run the gauntlet seeking some refuge.
Will the Blue Mosque be a safe place to flee?

We swirl through the sights like dervishes,
except we’re the major tourist attraction.
I’m so desperate I think I may sell her,
to be done with annoying distractions.

Her flight departs a day before mine.
I wave a cheerful farewell. The staff weeps
by my side, crushed that she’s leaving.
I feel like kicking my heels and leaping,
as I slip back into my invisible skin.