Monday, May 09, 2011

Diana Der Hovanessian: At the Temple of Zvartnots

Even the thistle is tender this spring.
Its spines and needles draw no blood from the past
where the fallen stone eagle closes black eyes
waiting, waiting for the temple to rise,
waiting for the altars and circular walls,
curious about the god ascending the throne,
anxious for architects who for centuries failed
to duplicate the miracle that stood in this place.
Its first architect impatient for lightning to strike
heard thunder and called it his sign for the site
and Zvartnots rose, Zvartnots rose,
so dazzling beholders praised sight and not source.
But when nature’s hammer again struck,
the ground slipped, earth shook and Zvartnots fell
with stone eagles plummeting down,
clipped wings falling with collapsing walls.
All the wild herbs have new colors this spring
to calm an earth that can thunder and shake
a countryside, splitting open to consume
the miracle of curved walls and dome.
Now that the lightning has blazed and passed,
now that time has blessed the space,
all the stone eagles squint at the skies
waiting  for their wings and the pillars to rise.
*   *   *
Zvartnots was a circular cathedral which was destroyed by a twelfth-century earthquake in Armenia and is now being restored. This poem has appeared on

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