Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jeannie P. Markarian: I Cannot See Where Your Bones Are

I cannot see where your bones are,
Acid rain ate defiant Mesropian tendrils of tombstone lettering,
Twilight is descending
I am lost in the graveyard
Three hours from Ellis Island-
This Broken bridge to Keghi ,Old Country….

Your son calls to me over unkempt rows, my father
he stomps past tilted stones, hard set mouth muttering,
Moon is ascending
We stop in death beds
Three hours from Ellis Island-
His Toungue bridges to Keghi , Old Country…

That day the Sun lit our eyes driving through Buffalo’s merry skeleton
his amber fingers pointed past NAFTA-gutted factories
words built ropes to the forgotten
hands trying to shake the family tree
leaves buried in secrecy
Illegals don’t get a record in the sacred
Books of Ellis Island.

On 11th Red-brick churches crumble side-by-side
whose wombs were seeded from dust-devils of Der Zor
Birthed by a million weeping brides
Who now only speak of “Before”
and “Over There”………
when stories gave shade from desert glare ,gendarme’s bloody score
marked the breadless days and passed the time
Rained water on parched skin, soothed foot sores
This blood-borne lore they twined
Passes into Air…..

That day winds blew the waters from Niagara over his memories uncovering
His youth in this hometown and yearning
Came about:
The scarred skin slowly peeped
Through Niagra’s prismed clouds:

“1949. Goddamn we danced like madmen on 51st-where that café there stood!-
now it’s starbucks but .there noone cared how bad our English was!
Everybody came to 51st
Us Armenians, Arabs,( -brought the works,
it or NOT!
And every Easter the whole family went to the graves and picnicked the greens
I swear nuthin like it pissed off the priests
and once your cousin Bedros GOT
DRUNK as the devil!!!!
Made eyes at that beauty Anahid
And ent up shot!!
I don’t remember
Which graveyard it was
I don’t remember
which village She come from
cause they were all over the damn place,- OverThere
He said they was round the bottom of Mount. Ararat , Noah ya know?
Musta been close to those two rivers, cause he threw me in water once to show
me how to swim- ‘YOU GO IN, NOW SWIM!’ Haha.
No, I can’t teach you the language of the dead, you gotta know this language
From the time you were this tall……
And I am forgetting…….”
If you forget where you stood, will you forget where you’re going
And find yourself sleepless by the night?

Copyright Jeannie P. Markarian, 2003
Used here by kind permission of the author

1 comment:

William said...

Jeannie: Thanks for your beautiful poem. It has everything: music, guts, defiance, restlessness, longing, spontaneity.

William Michaelian