Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Diana Der-Hovanessian: Armenian gifts for my daughters

My Hittite nose. Forgive me.
But it comes with our genes,
from the bronze age and before,
with the metallurgist's gift.

Persistence. The legacy
of 43 Nayirian kings who failed
but still passed on
the will to live.

Urartuan skill in smelting iron
and taming horses into leaping stone,
the Phrygian language's secret singing,
Hayassa's open heart and home.

The Lydian joy in riding,
the Scythian bent for growing wheat,
the Caucasian affinity for climbing,
the Luvian capacity to weave.

A Cappodocian apt for building,
a Byzantine eye for colors, shades,
balance from the dome's inventors,
from ancient gods, some older ways

of seeing from Anahid, protector,
from Asdghik, goddess of grace,
and Naneh who advised queens, talents
for laughing at woman's place.

From Mithra, reverence for the sun,
From Anushavan, regard for trees,
Ahriman's awe of time passing,
Meher's humor in all of these.

Green eyes, older than the Hittites
to pass to daughters yet to be.
Energy from one thousand pools
feeding the Euphrates.

Suspicion born in 1915.
Trust that stays with Christianity.
Zesty craziness from Sassoun.
And for Noah's peak, a strange affinity.

From the collection About Time: poems by Diana Der Hovanessian. Used here by kind permission of the author.

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