Finding a Fal Café in Istanbul
by Julene Tripp Weaver
We drink healing sherbets—
small aperitif drinks served
in shot glasses before a meal,
between courses—a palate cleanser.
Recipes from the Ottoman dynasty,
fruit or flower petals: cornelian
cherry, grapes, roses, red poppy
We try Turkish coffee, find the
“Turkish Starbucks,” Kahva
Dunyasi, with their watered
down version the traveler
at our hostel from England
complained about. We persist,
find the rich coffee at a Fal Café
served with flavors, cinnamon,
cardamom, and psychics
turn over your cup for a
grounds reading, a goal fulfilled.
Quite the marvel this real
coffee, made to order, one with
mastic, one with nutmeg. If I
lived in Turkey, I would drink
coffee, find the best cafes. Mostly,
I drank their chai—this city
tea drinkers—I warm my hands
against their tiny tulip cups,
sugar cubes on the side,
no milk. I dream this city a new
home in only a matter of days.
PHOTO: Coffee in Istanbul, Turkey, with Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in the background. Photo by Kotelnyk, used by permission.
NOTE: Coffee reading dates back to the 16th Century, with “seers” interpreting symbols viewed in the thick sediment at the bottom of a cup of Turkish coffee. After the coffee in the cup has been enjoyed, the sediment is left to settle. The cup is then covered with the saucer and turned upside-down. Coffee readers interpret symbols they see in the sediment, and provide a reading about the individual’s past, present, and future.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written after my 2015 trip to Turkey. The above photo was taken in Istanbul at the Fal Café, where I had my fortune told in coffee grounds.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julene Tripp Weaver is a psychotherapist and writer in Seattle, Washington. Her third collection, truth be bold—Serenading Life & Death in the Age of AIDS, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards and won the Bisexual Book Award. Her work is published in many journals and anthologies, including Verse-Virtual, The Seattle Review of Books, HIV Here & Now, Mad Swirl, Journal of the Plague Years, Global Poemic, MookyChick, and in the forthcoming Poets Speaking to Poets: Echoes and Tributes; more of her writing can be found at julenetrippweaver.com.