Sawdust, a stream of litter on the floor,
the door inside the outside door ajar,
the contents of each dining room drawer
emptied, strewn as if a giant had poured
out everything. I ran screaming to call
911, surveying the chaos inside
the bedroom, the lingerie a tide
of silk and nylon flowing to the hall.
"Table silver, all jewelry, an old photo
of my father at four in a village dress,
the only thing his mother saved, pressed
on the inside of a brooch, and old cameo,
my mother's, my great aunt's rings."
Police ask for listings of such things.
I gave them the inventory, everything
I could recall, my former husband's war
medals, his silver officer's bars,
my child's first tooth, pearls, my wedding ring.
The detective asked if I'd been robbed before.
I thought of jewels buried in the ground
as Armenian families fled the sound
of shooting, Turks breaking in each door,
my grandmother's gems down to one cameo
sent to America with her older son,
two million relatives lost as one,
art, architecture, poems I'd never know,
everything except a picture in a cameo.
Answered what he wanted, "No."
Copyright Diana Der-Hovanessian
Previously published in American Scholar. Reprinted here by kind permission of the author.
Monday, July 16, 2007