Mehmet, the Leica

Aren't schools supposed 
to be closed at this temperature,
bemoaned Fat Ali, who was listening 
to the weather station,
his palm-sized transistor radio glued to his ear:
18-degree Celsius below zero!

Schools yes, but not the earth, 
not the world, not the universe!
They are waiting for us with arms open
to rescue their beauty from the yoke of concealment. 
This was Mehmet, the Leica, our history teacher
who was doing double duty as the president 
of our newly founded photography club.

A herd of junior-high kids,
we all had the same model 
of dinky Kodak cameras, hanging from our necks,
a generous gift from the Education Minister
to his beloved Alma Mater – on loan, of course,
to be kept till the end of the semester.
Some of us were in fur parkas, some in trench-coats,
a few in double sweaters and some (hard to believe)
in their summer shirts – a thousand time mended.

It is now minus 20, announced Fat Ali,
faking a shiver as if he were electrocuted.

A dedicated artist, replied Mehmet, the Leica,
would march naked to Antartica just to capture
something iconic, something spectacular.

As we came to the bottom of the hill
leading to our destination,
the legendary Ankara Castle,
we made a sudden stop.
This is a glacier, protested Fat Ali,
with an honest horror in his voice.

After a short moment hesitation, 
our “fearless teacher” charged ahead 
with the haughtiness of a general 
entering a conquered city.
I hope he crushes his head, 
grumbled Fat Ali – very softly.
His Leica, his Leica, suggested,
even more softly, a few others.

Adnan Onart
Boston MA, 2014