Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gregory Djanikian: Armenian Pastoral (1915)

Memory is useless if none of us
remembers the same things.
-- Bruce Murphy

If Anoush were holding her child

and watching the sheep 
carted off like men to the slaughter

and Armenag in his dark vest and trousers

were hobbling barefoot in the village square
toward the pockmarked wall

and Ashod in his prison cell

were counting the sprigs of parsley
that must be rising in his garden now

if Araxi were razor-thin by the roadside

dreaming of a while mountain 
turning red in the alpenglow

if Antranig refusing to walk

were shod like a horse
and tethered in his own pasture

and Azniv were a wet nurse now

to a battalion of mouths
her infant slit clean in the straw

how long would it have to go on then

beginning with A and spilling over
into all the alphabets

before mother sister father child

could wear the same faces in any language

be cut from the same tongue.

This poem has appeared in So I will till the ground, published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2007. It has previously appeared in Poetry Magazine in 2002 and Ararat in 2004. An audio recording of the author reading his piece is available by clicking on the link below.

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