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The Literary Groong - 08/01/2001

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	By Diana Der Hovanessian

	The anniversary poem is a glass roofed
	railroad station flooded
	with false sunlight. The trains are empty,
	the conductors are dead, but
	real passengers are waiting.

	the anniversary poem is the mark
	of the teeth of the shark
	on the arm of the swimmer
	and the mark on the floating dismembered arm.
	And the teeth of the smiling Turk
	denying at the U. N.
	the existence of sharks.

	The anniversary poem
	is the flow of the river Euphrates
	60 years emptied of the blood
	but still running over the stones
	in the mind of geographer.

	The anniversary poem
	is a caption under the paintings of Arshile Gorky
	explaining why his broken world
	could not be pressed into convention.

	The anniversary poem finally acknowledges
	for the 20th century its source
	of fractured art,
	the same source as Antonin Artaud's
	theatre of cruelty and the absurd,
	the world that could not be shown
	or painted or fictionalized except in excerpt
	and in disguise.

	the anniversary poem is made of steel
	and rolls on wheels
	through the streets of Erevan.

	It is the thread of the novel
	being written in Paris
	and the short story in California.
	It is the dance ensemble in Beirut
	and the skyscraper in Buenos Aires
	the symphonies in Vienna and Japan
	and the football strategy at Notre Dame.
	It is the political cartoon showing
	a sick Turk being nursed by
	an Armenian doctor nagging him
	to get well and pay his bill.

	The anniversary poem
	is carved on exiles' gravestones and granite
	library walls across North America.

	The anniversary poem is a test tube
	muscle flexing itself,
	the lens of the observatory,
	and the eye of the sculptor carving
	new horses for David of Sassoun.

	The rhythm of the poem is the same beat
	as the pagan round dance.
	It divides itself into two parts
	like the scattered people,
	half on a piece of home soil,
	half sinking into warm friendly swamps.

	The soul of the poem
	is the breath of the Armenian language
	being exhaled
	waiting to be inhaled.

	The heart of the poem is the
	Christian love that remembers obligation.

	It recalls Christ rendered unto Caesar
	Caesar's goods. It remembers forgiveness
	does not mean condoning
	thievery and death.

	The mind of the poem cries: Enough
	to anguish!
	It searches solutions.

	The anniversary poem is the shadow
	of walls holding all the courts
	in all the cities of the world.
	The poem wants to come out of the shadows,
	and asks a Nuremberg trial for 1915
	so that with justice
	the word forgiveness can be pronounced.

	The anniversary poem points
	at the world since 1915 and says it is time
	that the legacy of 1915;
	be reversed.

	It contains no laments.
	It does not complain to all the TV-callous
	ears of the world,
	does not prod their conscience,
	does not point-out bought historians,
	warping facts.

	It says merely: "Finish with the art of dying,

	The anniversary poem pledges itself
	with the free will of Yeznick,
	with the waters of Azad,
	with the flowers of Avarair,
	with the chains of Artavast,
	with the shrakans of Gregory,
	with the testament of Mashtots,
	with the testimony of the revolutionary heart
	to dedicate itself to Life.

	And being neither threat nor promise,
	ode nor eulogy,
	narrative nor song of a small man
	crying Akh,
	the anniversary poem names itself
	Question and Case,
	the question that every human
	must ask himself
	before he can call himself human.

	Copyright © 2001 Diana Der Hovanessian

Diana Der Hovanessian is 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.

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