8.23.2004

Excellent Excerpt

Most men of the village have gone off to war, except Agnes' husband who had gone off to America to make his fortune and return home. Tas Akbulut is a "Turk" and presumably a prisoner of war although he is left unguarded, there being no one to guard him. So while Agnes and the other women of her family keep the tall and dark Tas housed and fed in the barn, Agnes struggles to remain faithful.

From Mary Helen Stefaniak's The Turk and My Mother:

[Agnes] went back to the field behind the barn where she and Rosa had spread their hemp stalks to dry and found her little daughter strutting back and forth between the rows. Madeline was wearing a wig of long white fibers tied together at the top of her head reaching to her elbows.

"Monda!" Agnes said. "What are you doing? Where did you get that on your head?"

Little Madeline pointed to the haystack, where Tas Akbulut sat on a stool in the shade, his foot holding down the hinged end of a wooden stupa while one hand drew a bundle of stalks through it. His other hand lifted and dropped the top rail onto the stalks, chopping away the casing and softening the fibers into long white hair of the kind draped over Madeline's head.

"I am the queen of heaven," Madeline announced as she marched past her mother, keeping time to the Turk's chop-chop-chop. Agnes stroked the wig and found it slightly damp.

"The hemp is still too wet," she told him.


discuss this post at our messageboard