I had not read Lord Byron’s letters,
I was not hopeful of Paradise

for travelling in that season was ill-advised
The prudent or wise slowly folded their tickets
and stayed home with their families

Hoping only to be lucky
I fly, among members of the diaspora
Ralph Lauren sweaters nonchalantly
draped over their shoulders, over the dark

pool of the Black Sea, over Van,
Erzurum, over the bones of their slain
ancestors, under the wreck of a moon

Like sparking fires, stars over the Caucausus
I am hoping only that my luck will hold
I hold no thoughts of Paradise

Until sudden and marvellous below
the port wing there’s the diamante glitter
of a pastoral village, a child’s view of the Holy
Land pictured on a card at Christmas
wrapped in the serge cloth of night in the orient

‘Yerevan,’ murmurs someone. Our ark is coming
in. And I step onto Asian ground, ochre and
packed as in a souk where a merchant sells
enigmatic powders, and sniff the land and know

though I’ve never met the animal at close quarters
the paradisal smells of rosewater and camels.