Hagia Sophia

This entry is part 15 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013


My daughter leaves again today
for parts abroad— Serbia, Prague,
Turkey, places whose very names reek
of history, streets inlaid with stones

which peasants have trod, where horses
and armies raised the dust, clattering
from one end of the old world to the other:
destroying walls, burning farmland, laying

siege to villages— History describes
the capture of Constantinople, the dome
of the Hagia Sophia glittering against
velvet night like a jewel: how the Sultan

Mehmed promised his troops three days
of unbridled pillage if the city fell,
after which he would claim its contents
. Where are those holy

relics now— the resurrection stone,
the Virgin’s milk, the teeth and bones
of saints? In photographs, even the tiles
in the great halls where refugees sang

before they were swallowed are edged
in gold. I want to tell my daughter: look
for the perspiring column in a northwest
courtyard; look for the crying column,

the wishing column— and touch it;
then look for the heavy candlesticks
Suleiman the Magnificent brought back
from Hungary in the 16th century,

which guide books say flank each side
of the mihrab— where pilgrims
stand to pray, turning their faces
like arrows toward home.

~ para kay Julia Katrina


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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