Red-Letter December

Red-Letter December

Red-Letter December

Arts has moved! You can find new stories here.
A weekly poem, read by the author.
Dec. 13 2000 3:00 AM

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.

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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.

Rosemarie Ellis recently moved from California to Cambridge, Mass., where she writes poems and stories. She received her master's in creative writing from Boston University in 1999.