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The Literary Groong - April 24, 2004

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	By Diana Der Hovanessian

	Once there was, and never was,
	my grandmother's stories began
	the way all Armenian fairytales
	begin: Once there was
	and never was, a village,
	at the end of the woods,
	a small village roofed
	with cranes and smoke.

	Once there was, and never was,
	at the roof of a mountain
	a village called Tadem,
	where everyday, a shepherd boy
	passed the house of a woodsman
	at the edge of the town.
	The woodsman lived there with
	his wife and little girl.
	And when the boy took his goats
	to graze, the girl would watch
	secretly from a window, making
	up names for the goats, and the boy.
	She was not the daughter of the woodsman
	and his wife, but had been sent
	to live with them by her real father
	a mysterious king, with a mysterious name.

	Once there was, and never was,
	a village with a shepherd boy,
	and a witch's curse. In this village
	lived a woodsman, his wife
	and an orphan girl who thought
	she was the daughter of a nameless king.

	Years passed and the king never came
	to take home his little girl
	and so she was sent far away
	to America to marry.

	And after she was gone the boy felt lonely
	and unwatched. But not for long
	because a strange thing happened.
	His goats, the school, the children,
	their teacher, the church,
	priest and parish disappeared
	in a terrible way. Too terrible to tell.

	One morning there was an Armenian village
	that turned into a Turkish fire.

	Once there was or never was
	a little girl who thought
	she was the lost daughter
	of a lost king who would go back
	for her and thank everyone
	in the village for taking care
	of her. He would thank woodsman,
	priest, teacher, baker, shoemaker,
	children, tillers in the fields
	for singing their songs to her.
	And she would go with him
	to thank them for being her friends.
	But they disappeared.
	Once in a village, a rooster crowed
	and no one stirred.
	Once there was a village
	With wild hedges, a goat boy who never grew up
	and a princess who never woke.

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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