The Trouble with Monuments

Fall 2011. Istanbul, Turkey

More tourists at the Blue Mosque. And chestnut sellers and roast corn.  The Hagia Sophia, and then a glass of tea from a small boy in a vest and a hat, like I imagine on a monkey. With sugar it smelled like bitter roses.

The air smelled like rain. Dirty puddles reflected dark clouds and tired faces.

In both places, I think I was meant to feel splendor. But I felt cold. When I looked up at the great domed ceiling all I could think about was the people who built it: their hands and their backs, those stones and those lintels.

Christian, then Muslim, then museum. Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, Republic of Turkey.  Impermanence; even in a building so old that paths are worn into the marble.

Which is the trouble with monuments, mostly. By the time you are allowed to be there, their day is done.

2 thoughts on “The Trouble with Monuments

  1. Your prose is so quietly evocative. I love these images. I too have wondered about the people who built the old and towering buildings here in Europe, the sweating and aching and endless piling of everything by hand.

    I have just nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award. Details here: http://bit.ly/HzFmvt

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