Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Simone Akgulian: Roll Call

Teacher’s eyes extend down the list,
Where my name rests
Like the foul-smelling flower,
Atop a healthy stem.

Lips part,
Vocal chords vibrate,
And out comes
A mass
Of vowels and consonants.
A tumor of a last name;
Mutation of its former self.

“Did I pronounce that correctly?” they say.

My answer, dear teacher,
Is no,
You did not.
The words from your mouth are
Glass breaking, cars crashing,
Boats docking on New York’s Islands.
My name should not
Make these noises!

It should sound like
Garlic, grapes, and pomegranates.
Skyscraping mountains, wrongfully taken.
And arcs, not boats, brushing against
The stark white peaks
Of the origins of my DNA.

Where’s the growl in your throat?
The smell of budding white roses
Breaking the soil?
Where is the linking of pinkies?
The curling fumes of sweet incense
That breathe culture into my lungs
And pump Tomarza through my veins?

They went where my father’s language went.
With the touching of hand to
Forehead, chest, and shoulders.
With the roll of the tongue,
The hum of the throat
That great grandma brought with her
Leather hard feet
Across razor sharp deserts.
They went with promises of never forgetting.
They came and they went.
Now the only evidence rests
On a wall in New York
And the size of my tea leaf eyes.

So I swallow
The whine of the clarinet
And pounding of kef time,
And say,

“Yes, that’s how it’s pronounced.”

Simone Akgulian won the 2010 Armenian Poetry Project writing competition in the teenager category.


William Michaelian said...

What a wonderful poem!

Unknown said...

really great

Mark Gavoor said...

Wow... great job simone.
A teenager and feeling the link, the pull, the draw to Tomarza from where you great-grandparents, I am guessing, came from to... again I guess... Racine.