Saturday, January 17, 2009

Krikor N. Der Hohannesian: THE SECRET

Ժամանակին կար ու չկար
(a long time ago there was and there wasn’t)

Always in whispers among the elders,
the unspeakable, the weight
of Ararat atop a mystery
not for public consumption.

Old Armenian men, hunched
on cane-backed chairs,
drinking Turkish coffee in dim,
smoke-blue cafes - sotto voce
exchanges punctuated
by a knowing nod or
arched eyebrow. Gazes
wandered, eyes now and
then misting over…

Hairig refusing to speak English,
Nene helpless to control the spit
which spewed from her mouth
when uttering the “T-word”, rubbing
her nose still unable to rid
the stench of rotting corpses
piled high on makeshift drays,
catafalques for the slaughtered.

Shame, given no word, stalked the psyche,
grief snuffed, losses left to history –
an uprooting unappeased by the promise
of America, anomie our lot.

We, the next generation, inquired
with trepidation. Armenians, we were told,
were smart and hardworking. The past
wasn’t worth dwelling upon. It belonged
to those from Hyastan and not us, their children.

This poem has previously appeared in the South Carolina Review

No comments: