Evening call to prayer sounds on the loudspeakers.
An imam’s voice stirs my thoughts while I’m led through the palace grounds,
Not of Czarivna Catherine complaining of surrounding noisy hordes,
Not of Pushkin and Mickiewicz penning melancholy on this very spot,
Nor of Stalin’s abrupt renaming of this once Crimean fortress to Sadovsk, Garden,
To erase all sounds of those he deported to the ‘stans in May of ‘44.
No, I am wondering why my tour guide has insisted I
Cannot enter the palace mosque while I watch others enter.
Mr. Intourist explains Ukraine is now free from Soviet Russia
And its Crimean Tatar minority has returned to reclaim its national lands,
Ahem, at least who can enter this part of the tour.
I blink, my way of throwing bread back, and silently follow.

Bakhchisarai remains standing only because
Inside it flows a spell-binding fountain of such beauty
That, once experienced, none dare destroy it.
This is why I’m at this palace- for the marbled miraculous Rapture.

Dilara she was, some say concubine, some say princess
In six short years her rule over Ruler greenly cut
Her death spiraling the ruin of Khan Giray,
His only legacy – grief, as deep as ever welled,
Filling a three-tiered alabaster fountain
To catch the Khan’s tears for Dilara

Over
a
n
d
O v e r
a
n
d
O v e r

Inscribed onto this marble altar, the reminder that

The righteous shall drink water in Paradise
From the source named Selsibil.

I place my palm below its translucent white flower and feel
The mystical palace spring no one dared destroy as it cries

Cup
u
p
o
n
C u p
u
p
o
n
C u p

for eternity, not for she who consumed the Tatar Khan,
But for those of us
Now
Who shake the water off our hands, and wipe them,
Afraid to throw stones awaiting Paradise,
Afraid to move mouth to hand for Selsibil,
Afraid to stain our skin with tears
That might save us for an
Afterlife.

Kingswood School Cranbrook (1973), Yale College (1977), Boston College Law (1980), Member of the Bar of the State of New York. Many years of writing legal contracts- associate and junior partner in law firms, including in Paris from 1981-1987. Mother of three grown children. Twice widowed. Currently a vineyard owner in Naramata, British Columbia, producing mostly for Lake Breeze Winery. Past president of various clubs/boards in Chicago and Paris. Honored by Ukrainian government for service to its foreign ministry.

Lidia Devonshire Poet

Location
Chicago, IL