The Fieldstone Review

Atlantic Oceans of Food and Flesh

by Saskia Layden Kaya

Sometimes when I miss Turkey, I sit in Central Park, drink too much coffee, and endlessly crack open and swallow down salted pistachios. I get all hyped up on caffeine and daydream myself back to the Mediterranean. I pretend the park is the beach and the coffee and pistachios are Turkish. But the label on the bag of pistachios says they come from “the USA or Iran.” The company is not even sure where their fucking product comes from. The coffee, I guess, is Italian—the paper cup reads Segafredo—but I’m sure the beans grew in Colombia or maybe somewhere in Africa. Maybe both. The bastardized system of producing and transporting food around the world makes me ache even more for the local fruits and vegetables of the Turkish coastline. While in Turkey, I used to go for walks in the evening, strolling slowly towards the seaside along a dirt road sprinkled with a few small markets selling snacks, cold beer, salty yogurt ayran, sunscreen, souvenirs, and fresh-squeezed orange and pomegranate juice mixed together to create a magenta-colored brew. The vendors would sit lazily, subdued by the midday heat, rotating fans creating waves in their loose clothing and hair, watching me as I picked fresh mulberries off of the trees along the way.

I close my eyes and feel the dulled warmth of the late summer sun on my face and arms. It is September in New York but maybe for a moment I could block out the sounds of the Fifth Avenue traffic and instead imagine the lapping of the waves and the voices of young Turkish men selling mussels and corn along a long stretch of beach on a hot July day. Maybe I can throw pistachio shells on the ground like they do in Turkey, and maybe the park attendant won’t give me that scolding look that tells me to take my feet off the chair and pick up my shells.

I open my eyes and decide to buy another coffee—my current addiction, distraction. I go back to the coffee stand on the edge of the park and take my place in line. I notice a young male barista and begin to watch him intently, intrigued. My gaze is fixed and penetrating. I watch him work and move his smooth, white arms, his skin like marble in the afternoon sunlight. I study his movements and while I wait my turn to approach, my daydream drifts me out to sea once again. He thinks he is being polite when he glances at me and smiles, but I see a tiger—teeth shining white, eyes like turquoise Mediterranean skies.

I take him in, transported from these city streets to a place where lovers’ secrets become the memories that haunt me. I close my eyes and New York is once again an Atlantic Ocean away. I arrived here just two days ago, and my mind has not yet caught up with my body. It feels as if I floated here, carried by a gentle force that suggestively nudges me in new directions. Concrete and clamor surround me, but his eyes remind me of my recent past—lazy afternoons on dusty seaside stones, my skin still bronzed from lost hours among the sounds of the turquoise surf and the voices of young Turkish men walking along the rocky shore with giant trays of warm simit balanced on their heads.

He thinks he is merely speaking, working, moving discreetly and undetected through his day, but I vibrate with each of his movements and my eyes travel through his body’s secrets. His delicately constructed face—eyes, teeth, and nose perfectly in place—guides me enticingly downwards, past his lips, chin, and collarbones. I arrive at his waistline and watch the details of his torso dance beneath a thin cotton veil. But he cannot hide from me. The Manhattan sky watches me watching him, and the gaping mouths between clouds and sun smirk and smile and sigh as if to say, “Finally someone has noticed our prince.”

Enchanted by an accidental seduction, my imagination wanders. I picture a white room and a canopy bed with soft, fresh sheets. The moonlight shines through the open French doors and reflects the marble of his arms and torso and the inner pathways of his waistline, guiding me to the center of him, down his legs, wrapping around to the inner spaces of his thighs. The evening breeze carries with it the scent of night-blooming jasmine and the salt of the sea. He thinks he is invisible, unnoticed, but I watch him, and the poetry of his body overflows into mine. He is the prince.

I look around to see if others notice his majesty, but they are consumed by their monotony, staring at city maps, scolding their children, drowning in their glowing screens, in their fried potatoes, in the empty conversations of expired love. The voices around me hum. Soft and subdued, they hammock my senses, cradle my carnal longings. The buzz of humanity, my cloister, my cover, my hiding place, my veil. In their ignorance, in their distraction, he is mine.

I feast on his presence and imagine all the ways I could consume him. From collarbone to waist, hip bones, knees, and the surfaces of his inner thighs.

Pablo Neruda, on the beholding of a queen, writes of the reverberating sounds of rivers and bells shaking the sky with hymns that fill the world. The vibrations of Neruda enter my mind and the fire beneath my feet swallow us into an intimate dance.

Yo te he nombrado el príncipe.
I have named you the prince.
Nadie ve tu corona de cristal.
No one sees your crystal crown
or your marble skin
or your Mediterranean eyes.

But I have named you the prince.

In my daydream you tell me that I taste like honey, and I believe you. I am transported back to a sun-drenched seaside bungalow where the delicate scents of narcissus and wisteria drape from bleached wooden balconies. There was the setting for many Turkish breakfasts, complete with the sweet nectar of honey from the pine forests of the southern coast—best when mixed with the smooth texture of fresh cream and the crack of ripe walnuts.

My prince, pour the honey down my neck. Let it run a thick, golden river down my spine. Let the blue sky bear witness: the city has begun to burn. A silent, secret fire brews beneath our feet. I close my eyes and as the thick liquid softly drips down the soft valleys of my spine and upper thighs, my body travels from Mediterranean waves to the floor at your feet.

Sólo tú y yo,
Sólo tú y yo, amore mío.

Only us, my love.

And after watching you prepare my coffee, out of focus and far away, I realize I have traveled deep into the void, lost in the deliciousness of memories that have morphed into fantasies. Then you ask me, “How would you like to pay?”

Monotony is a slap across my cheek, waking me up from the desires of my underworld. Dreaming and passion now sting my eyes. My cheeks flush, and my body exposes hints of a secret. I blink, half-smile, and hand you the cash.

I walk away with a shy nod of gratitude. I leave you to your work. The city swallows me again, but my head is filled with dreams, and in them you taste like honey.