Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Charles Avakian Freericks: Family Photo Album

"All the pictures are fading."
my mother says about the albums
from Russia and Iran. Her child-
hood and her mother's falthering.

Brittle pages in warped bound
books I used to have to ask
permission to see, filled
with novels of ancestry and blood.

Here, my grandmother,
a teenager, swims with her sister
and parents as a grey ball
of sun drizzles into the Black Sea.

But, the pictures are fading
and my grandmother, who never forgave
her parents for being Jews,
for being hated, is nearly gone.

She, who married a compact, but sturdy
alien and let him take her
to Iran to teach her to be a better
Armenian than any Armenian.

She, who thought she might escape
death with a different last name
but chose to join a race dying
themselves at the hands of hate.

And the pictures are fading.
Like a flyer on a telephone
pole that's seen too many noons
my heritage has slipped away.

Here, my mother, barely five, is dressed
in grey knickers in order to play
with her brothers, Persian
clouds collect dust overhead.

She, who never forgave her father
for dying young, for forcing her
to leave her Armenian tongue
in Iran. She married a man

from New Jersey, with a foot
on the Mayflower and tried to join
the D.A.R. Which doesn't mean any-
thing to me, but means everything.

Still, the pictures are fading.
Knowing where we would look
when that day came that she was gone
my grandmother left a note

in one album, scribbled in her hand,
trembled by age,
"Have doctor make sure I am dead
before they put me in the ground."

And the pictures are fading.

Copyright Charles Avakian Freericks. This poem has appeared in Ararat, Autumn, 1995.

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