Monday, May 30, 2016

Melissa King: Akhtamar Effect

Copper, warm, and silent on the wall,
Akhtamar stares east and I write
my academic body, 
thinking of her desperate desire for the other 
that she’s taken as a bridge, and the power
of time travel. 

She looks different here at home, 
frail and insecure with slim hips
not like by the black lake there
where she towers a Soviet warrior woman
over the forested shore and highway,
hands together above her head, looming,
ready to dive, fly in an arc over us
with our raisin buns at a red picnic table,
splash into that wormhole to save 
what remnants are left and bring 
back what was lost and drowned
in forgetfulness, remembrance, and the silences
of so many similar words over and over,
point the way to intimate communion, 
but she still doesn’t, waiting
like she has all these hundreds of years 
obedient and frustrated.
I understand that part.

When I remember the activists’ chant,
I rethink Akhtamar’s mythic patience, 
the waiting and watchfulness of a survivor 
for the crane of justice to hoist it all out of the water.
I raise my hands together over my head, 
in my dining room, where I write, 
My toes grasp sandy rocks under the table. 
I sense her tension 
and put her body into my words.

Copyright 2016, Melissa King

Melissa King is Faculty Chair of the Anthropology Department at San Bernardino Valley College in San Bernardino, California. Her anthropological research has concerned memory of genocide within Armenian American youth activisms in the Los Angeles area. She received her doctorate from University of California, Riverside, in 2013, and has both published and presented her ideas through such organizations as the American Anthropological Association. She has previously published poetry in Anthropology and Humanism

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