Saturday, March 01, 2014

Diana Der-Hovanessian: How to fall asleep

Start with the first century,
with the pagan chants praising Vahakn,
describing the coming of fire.

Then go back to the time
of psalms to the sun
by ancestors with Hittite names.

Go back to the stones
carves with cuneiform,
and the Khatti that came before these.

Call in the gods of earth and the skies,
of mountains, rivers and winds.
Summon the deities of wells and clouds,

spirits to bring sweet dreams.
Move then to Haig, his battle
with Pel. Remember the Assyrians in the hills.

And Ara the Handsome,
David's battles with Egypt,
and Vartan on the Persian battlefields.

Remember the poems that honor their passing,
and bless the reciter's lips.
Say the canticles of Narek.

Try to recall one line
of Magistra's thousand line ode,
of Aristeke's description of Alp.

Then sing the hymns of
Nerses the Gracious, and narratives
that make the listener weep.

Remember the fables of Mkhitar Gosht,
remember the fables that teach
no matter what dragons you slay,
never sweep off the dark cloud sleep.

This work has appeared in Graham House Review, Spring 1990. 

No comments: