Monday, May 04, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: Aida Zilelian reading Daniel Varoujan

Aida Zilelian-Silak - photo by Khatchik Turabian

In My Father’s Prison

I was a little boy when I visited you
In your dark cell in the prison;
Mother had taken ill. I was wandering
Between the prison and her bed.

They informed you of my visit.
You came to the iron-bar gate
That blocked our passionate embrace – what a crime –
You were silent and sad.

You were frail and so longing to see sunlight.
Your beard, as if grown on bone, concealed your face. Oh,
Father you were a dead man.

You smiled when you saw me,
But that kind smile was a fake;
Like a blossomed water lily wrongly placed
On a lake of tears.

From behind the dark iron bars,
You stretched your lips to kiss mine.
Alas, our lips could not come close to touch.
We were like a cradle and a coffin.
Oh, how I wished to embrace you warmly,
Grant you the free world outside the cell,
Flood your eyes with the boundless sky seen
Through my own small pupils.
And to empty into your heart my days spent under the sun.
I wanted to flood your cell with roses and spring
And bury my youth and my future in your cell.

Oh, what a sad hour indeed.
I told you bit-by-bit all of the sufferings of our home:
The passing of granny; the illness of mom with her cough
That bursts the silence of the nights.

I told you that owls are dancing under the moon
On our roof;
That our rose vine withered this year
From the dry winds of the cemetery.

You were listening with an inquiry of questions.
When suddenly a cruel command,
- A command so evil – came to separate us;
- You left without  kissing me.

Standing there, gazing at your departure,
I cried there. Lonely and alone, I cried, Dad.
- A new vengeance was born in my chest –
The tears in my eyes were the echoes of my heart.

Oh, love of life, honest labor, thorny hearts,
Saintly things all thrown into filth.
They are like collapsed veins
In the much needed paths of survival.

Along with you, drowned in genocides,
I saw, lilacs and saints of all religions,

And Christs who were spit upon.

Translated by Herand M. Markarian

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