Sunday, September 06, 2009

Susan Donelian: Pursuit

Click here for the audio segment Pursuit read by Lola Koundakjian.

I feel as if I were the residue of a stranger's life,
that I should pursue you...

A long silk scarf
drapes over the dining room chair.
Before we begin this supper
I see you grandfather
as if I had never known that sense before.
You wrap that scarf
around your waist
many times, secure it
behind a buttoned jacket
and disappear.
My mother, your last child, now sits
where the scarf had been.
She tells me to "take some of that, eat some of this."
It was she who told me of the bullet wound;
of the lead which bored its way through your torso,
clear through the other end
like a warfare maggot.

I had never known
of your pain, until the sight of you now,
had never thought of winter
as the chill that swept through your wound,
leaving you to cringe on the floor.
Should I have felt that pain?
Knowing it to be the result of pride,
your love for your family,
our Armenian descent?
Or did you realize the strength you had found
would survive decades --
secure a life for me?
I have no wounds:
you, who I can only imagine,
have bequeathed to me just that.

This poem was published in Ararat, Spring 1983.