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The Literary Groong - 03/20/2004

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	By Diana Der Hovanessian

	You asked: What flower blooms in winter?
	And you asked: What snow falls in summer?
	And you asked: What paper can never erase by erasing?

		  Once in old Armenia there was
		  (or perhaps there never was)
		  a custom
		  for choosing a bride.
		  Whether the girl were pretty
		  was not so important as
		  whether the girl had pretty ways.
		  And that was not so important as
		  whether she had people who smiled
		  the way your people smiled.
		  But that was not so important as
		  the answers she could give
		  the riddles.

	And she answered: Snow is the flower that blooms in winter.
	And she answered: Death is the snow that falls in summer.
	And she answered: Memory is the paper you cannot erase by erasing.

		  And the riddles were solved
		  or they were not
		  depending upon
		  how pretty she was
		  after all.

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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