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The Literary Groong - 01/01/2001

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For the inaugural posting of The Literary Groong, we're honored to
have a poem to share, directly from Diana Der Hovanessian. A Fulbright
professor of American literature at Yerevan State University in 1994
and 1999, she is author of 17 books and has published in American
Scholar, Poetry, Harvard Review, Nation, Paris Review, New Republic,
and her poetry is regularly published in the Christian Science
Monitor. She has awards from the Columbia Translation Center, P.E.N.,
Writers Union of America, and the Writers Union of Armenia.


	By Diana Der Hovanessian

	Walking with an Armenian
	is different
	from walking with anyone
	In the first place
	he will try to catch
	up with another Armenian
	unless you happen to be one.
	In the second place
	he'll keep looking
	sideways for another Aemenian
	unless you happen to be one.

	Laughing with an Armenian
	is different
	from laughing with anyone
	You know
	you're laughing because
	you've survived.

	He'll lead you off the path
	and like tasseled whips
	the grass will beat lightly
	against your legs
	as you plough through
	for motion
	not direction,
	for denseness that makes a path.

	"What does that butterfly
	mean? The one that flies
	over your head"
	"Is it a monarch
	or phantom blue?"
	"It's white.
	Small and white."
	"That's one of the ghosts
	of the 34 Armenian dialects
	inquiring into
	our quiet."

	And when two Armenians
	are quiet it's not
	because there's nothing to say.

[This poem was published in "How to Choose your Past" in 1978 by Ararat Press,
and the translation by Garig Basmajian appeared in HARATCH in Paris in 1977.
Source: Lola Koundakjian ]

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