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Painting over Aya Sofia

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A lot of the painting here is painting over.
Can everyone at the back hear over everyone?
Everyone is a blast of light seeping across the film.
All day high toothy windows whiten in flashlight.

We are much like we were: five times a day.
Things don’t change that much in five centuries.
For ten centuries before it was faces.
Those were faces, yes. They were angels.

The gold mosaic is as fine as an angel’s velvet wing.
The Christian building is spongy yellow, ochre, gold.
The Islamic additions are sheer yellow, baby blue, black and gold.
Red crosses seep through baby blue.

A woman kisses her cross and crosses herself.
Another is kissed by a pink polo shirt and camera.
A camera will not put the rest of Christ back in.
It will not take away the crowd around Christ’s toes.

The crowded reference image accompanying the fragments.
Pigeons wing through the high windows and up in fragments.
Christ’s toes; Christ’s fingertips; Christ’s thigh; Christ on high.
Sandals expose toes in the highlights.

Source: Poetry (October 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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Painting over Aya Sofia

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