2 Poems in Prose
My mother and I were sitting in the courtyard of the Beyazit Mosque in Istanbul when the holy singing began. Within minutes, there was a congregation of Muslims coming towards us from the surrounding roads. I was claustrophobic and so we left, hugging the side of an alley. As we walked, I observed some of the crowd: a young man dusting adwiya off his hands, a bookkeeper closing up shop, a child spilling ice cream all over her shirt and giggling. These were the same people I might have known back home, except that they were all following the amplified voice that echoed from the top of the minarets, affirming the verses with their faith.
Veronika missed her days as an intern in Pharmacy School in Nesterkovo, where, naive and ignorant, she did not know what illnesses corresponded to the prescriptions she prepared.
To study for her tests, she linked the faces of local residents to their medications: Atorvastatin for Mr. Chumakov’s cholesterol, Alendronate for Mrs. Vershinin’s frail bones, and Isotretinoin for Leonid’s abundant acne, which persisted until the end of his schooling, when Veronika dated him for a while.
But then she graduated and moved to St. Petersburg. In the city, the drugs’ names grew longer, and she saw such terribly ill faces, she trembled while bagging pills at the counter. She tried to stop thinking so much about the patients; she tried Alprazolam, Xanax. Eventually, a day came when she dared not look up “How much is the Zofran, after insurance?” for the voice she heard was the voice of a dead man.