Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Diana Der-Hovanessian: This is for Zarif

who used to draw
in the mud of the water bank
with a stick and weave marvelous
stories for her little boy
in a village called Tadem,

who used to decorate
the tops of pastry with cut outs
of fantastic figures;
this is for Zarif
who did needlework
passably well
and figures faster than any man.

This is for Zarif
who prayed with two hands
and who wrote to her son
that although she could not watch him
while he was away at school
she knew he would want to be
like the other good men in his family
who did not smoke.

This is for that simple woman
who did not teach her son
to be a revolutionary
but when revolution came, hid a gun for him
in the garden, against bad days.

This is for Zarif whom the Turks beat,
asking the whereabouts of that son;
for Zarif who said over and over again
I do no know,
although she did.

This is for Zarif whose arm was smashed
then made raw then broken to pieces
then cut off while she repeated when she waked
she did not know.

This is for one-armed Zarif
who lived through hell;
who lived to see her grandchildren
in another world,
this is for her
who once help my right hand in her left
and never told me what I must do with mine.

From the collection About Time: poems by Diana Der Hovanessian. Used here by kind permission of the author.

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