Here in Turkey, the living prepare helva
to commemorate the dead.
Aunts in kitchens adorned
with calendars from banks stir sesame
and sugar, butter and their Anatolian pasts
in bowls, wondering why
their hands bruise so easily, why
their husbands don’t laugh or sit
for games of tombala on New Year’s Eve.
They are diligent and do
what their mothers taught them to do,
forge a little sweetness in the hour
of mourning, or against it, for children
who cannot contemplate grief.
For us who know grief’s hours,
death’s domain. It comes,
it makes those hours years, no matter
sun or rain or what we did with desire.