Thursday, January 04, 2007

David Kherdian: Untitled

Our trivial fights over spading
the vegetable patch, painting the
garden fence ochre instead of blue
and my resistance to Armenian food
in preference for everything American
seemed, in my struggle for identity
to be the literal issue.

Why have I waited until your death
to know the earth you were turning
was Armenia, the color of the fence
your homage to Adana, and your other
complaints over my complaints
were addressed to your homesickness
brought on by my English.

My father always carried a different
look and smell into the house when he
returned from the coffee houses in Racine
playing in the streets we would stop,
walk quietly by, and peer in thru the
cracked doors at the hunched back-gammon
players, their Turkish cups at their elbows.

Years later, reading the solemn, and bittersweet
stories of our Armenian writer in California,
who visited as a paper boy, coffee houses in
Fresno, I came to understand that in these
cafes were contained the suffering and
shattered hopes of my orphaned people.

Armenian-American Poets: A Bilingual Anthology, ed. and trans. Garig Basmadjian (Detroit, MI: Alex Manoogian Cultural Fund of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, 1976).

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