…but this blue I’m compelled to glorify

… this blue must be gold’s daughter… whether in grief or relief,

no one could know…

                        from: Another Poem on Blue by Claire Bateman

Istanbul: I was staying in one of the heavy stone buildings, thick walled as a castle, with high, high ceilings. These rooms hold the cool in summer and keep the radiators steaming in the cold months. I walked the hill on cobblestone and brick until my feet ached. The stones in Beyoglu remind me: this was a powerful empire that lasted many centuries, undefeated. 

On one sleepless night I stared at a thick baroque wall across the ally from my bedroom and promised myself when I was on the other side of Istanbul by the Blue Mosque, I would soak up the womb-like space, would let it nurture me. 

The last three days, we stayed there, at a small hotel in Sultanahmet with a great view of the Blue Mosque. I would wake in the night and see it filling the glass doors of our room – that opened onto a small porch – calling me home like a mother.


I learned to visit at the right time – between the early morning prayers and the arrival of hoards of tourists. It is quiet and nearly empty then. I would sit by a column and feel as if I were just a tiny child inside that strong, vast, curved space that rises many stories above me, rounding the lift of, say, a cathedral. Instead of an architectural arrow to heaven, here are the breasts and womb from earth. Each patterned dome is complete, yet they link and rise, with one great perfect canopy at the apex. The mother of all buildings.

In grief or relief,  I weep, thankful that I experienced years of meditative concentration which allows me to be present in this sublime environment, to let where I am be in my field, beneath, around and above me. I am here. I sense this enormous room, and let it nurture me, let it hold me. I take in its gifts, I breathe out gratitude.