Monday, May 15, 2006

Gregory Djanikian: I Ask My Grandmother If We Can Make Lahmajoun

Sure, she says, why not,
we buy the ground lamb from the market
we buy parsley, fresh tomatoes, garlic
we cut, press, dice, mix

make the yeasty dough
the night before, kneading it
until our knuckles feel the hardness
of river beds or rocks in the desert

we tell Tante Lola to come
with her rolling pins we tell
Zaven and Maroush, Hagop and Arpiné
to bring their baking sheets

we sprinkle the flour on the kitchen table
and it is snowing on Ararat
we sprinkle the flour and the memory
of winter is in our eyes

we roll the dough out
into small circles
pale moons over
every empty village

Kevork is standing on a chair
and singing
O my Armenian girl
my spirit longs to be nearer

Nevrig is warming the oven
and a dry desert breeze
is skimming over the rooftops
toward the sea

we are spreading the lahma
on the ajoun with our fingers
whispering into it the histories
of those who have none

we are baking them
under the heat of the sun
the dough crispening
so thin and delicate

you would swear
it is valuable parchment
we are taking out
and rolling up in our hands

and eating and tasting again
everything that has already
been written
into the body.

This poem has appeared in POETRY magazine (May 2002) and Ararat Quarterly (Winter 2004). It appears also in the upcoming So I Will Till the Ground volume, published by Carnegie Mellon, in January 2007.

Prof. Djanikian has given his consent to reproduce it here.


Lisa said...

Hello Lola, I wanted to let you know that I'm linking to this page on my food blog. I'm doing a "food poetry" event, asking people to send their favorite poems that involve food. I've loved this poem since I discovered it several years ago. You have a wonderful site; I'm glad I found it, and this poem—thanks!

talar said...

Hello Lola,

I loved Gregory Djanikian's style and poems so much that I am using them as study material in the Armenian Shenorhali Sunday school in Washington DC.
The children love the way they identify with his poems (especially "I ask my grandmother if we can make lahmajoun" ).

Thank you
Talar Kazanjian

Ivy said...

Hi Lola,
I wrote a recipe recently about lahmajoun at my site and Lisa was kind enough to send me a link of this beautiful poem.
Thanks you,