Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Y. Stephan Bulbulian: Ararat Cemetery

At the Ararat Cemetery
in Fresno, California,
the Armenian gravestones
have small oval pictures
of their namesakes,
in the area behind
the Pharaoh’s mausoleum.
It could be a village,
this section,
where the faces in the
pictures have profound
straight noses,
deep-set eyes,
every face sad
for its death, glad
to be buried next to
cousin Mesrob,
or the neighbors.
Grandma’s new grave
is unmarked next to
her husband, Mikael,
whose face shows
a sad but happier time.
Friends are close by.
One grave, on the fringe,
has a picture of a husband
and a wife, a large oval:
the man gravely sick,
the wife’s best attempt
at life’s happiness
in her sad smile.
Dispossessed said their faces,
he’s been dead for five years,
the year of her demise
not yet etched.
“Together, forever,” it read,
but not yet….

Well-crafted lives
lead to larger monuments
in this marble village.
some stones,
names in the undecipherable
ancient language
only few could know.

An old, hefty-man
in a black eye-patch
stares through the
remaining porcelain,
his only eye searching
for his mother’s name,
while his younger brother
wanders among names
of old friends, names
ending in the
same refrain,
the son of ….

Or, those shortened
names: Ross or Peter,
on gravestones
like marble steps
leading to the top
of Mount Ararat.

ARMENIAN TOWN: poetry by Paul Aloojian, James Baloian, Y. Stephan Bulbulian, Ronald Dzerigian, Michael Krekorian, Brenda Najimian-Magarity. Foreword by Dickran Kouymjian, copyright 2001 by the William Saroyan Society

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