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   w h e n    i    w a s    v e r y    y o u n g

--- G R E G O R Y   D J A N I K I A N

Everyone was Armenian
and had an aunt named Lola
and an uncle with a gold tooth.

Everyone cooked like Araxi, stuffing mussels with rice, hanging cheesecloth full of yogurt from the kitchen faucet.

Storytellers were everywhere and they were all Armenian and every story included a donkey or a basket full of grain, a village well, or an orchard of figs.

In each house, there was Hagop or Adom or Aghavni, and every room had an aroma of rose water and clove,

and in every church there was Astrig or Arshalouys watching the incense smoke float up like prayer.

How many Armenians there were, appearing as if by magic, in the butcher shops, at the cinema, and the merchants with spun-gold, rug sellers with knots of silver.

Even the cemeteries were filled with Armenians.

And the sea was Armenian too, blue like the skies of Yerevan, and whispering in a language no one but the sea could understand.

© crossconnect, inc 1995-2004 |
published in association with the |
university of pennsylvania's kelly writers house |