Through the summer months in Yeşilköy
we used to play basketball ceaselessly,
my cousin Michel and I, Agop, Ara and Aret
in the grounds of the old Greek school.
“Vor to you,” Michel and I would respond
when the three met us with a hearty “Vor,”
and we’d all five fall about in wild laughter.
We knew: it meant “arse” in Armenian.
Agop’s family had a huge green garden
(large enough for three later buildings):
we’d pick figs off the trees at one end,
and kick a ball around at the other.
Then Aret and Agop left for America.
I for London. We have no news of Ara.
Only Michel remains still in Istanbul.
From five to one in twenty short years.
A city where no one says vor any more
cannot be Istanbul, cannot be my town.
It cannot be where I became what I am.
I ache for what it once was, I dream of it,
I sing of it.
The Armenian Weekly
Dec. 27, 2008