Haibun Today
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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 3, September 2011



Bob Lucky
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

 

Third Day of Ramazan, Istanbul, 2011

My wife and I catch a ferry to Fener and visit the Church of St Stephen of the Bulgars, a cast-iron Orthodox Bulgarian Church built in Vienna and shipped to Istanbul sometime in the late 19th century. We'd read it isn't often open to visitors, but a tour group of Europeans, Slavic of some sort judging by the sounds of the lecture they're being given, gives us an opportunity. The caretaker waves us inside. We knock on pillars and walls, feel the rust peeling away in places, and satisfied that god does work in mysterious ways, we exit into the sunlight.

empty sidewalk
a shoeshine man offers
to brush my pants

For a while, we walk along the shore of the Golden Horn and then head up into the Balat neighborhood, once home to many of Istanbul's Jews. Ramazan is taken more seriously here than in the touristed parts of the city. Men sit at cafes and quietly finger ashtrays and prayer beads.

deserted lane
a half-full water bottle
against a wall

Too stubborn to ask directions to Ahrida Synagogue, we wander back and forth along the hillside streets until we find it. The doors are locked. We take a photo, like good tourists, and hop on a bus to Taksim Square for lunch.

clang of the tram bell
the shady side of Istiklal
jammed with people

end

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