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LALA By Knarik O. Meneshian Lala is little, Not because she is a child, She never finished growing. Forever her mother's `baby,' Her father's `if only.' She spends her days In the toneer room Where once a week Her mother bakes bread, Thin, round, flat bread--lavash-- The first piece always For the Lord. Lala looks on As her mother bakes. She utters sounds Only The Lord and her mother understand. And her mother nods, giving her lavash-- The second piece always For Lala. With mangled fingers Lala holds the bread and takes a bite. Stooped and wobbling, She gurgles and grins. She crawls, Then steps to the window, Mangled feet Barely holding her up. `Ahhh, ahhh!' she sings as she sits on the floor and claps. "Uh, uh!" she says as she rocks and points At birds flying past the window. Lala's mother looks at her `baby' of thirty eight And sighs. Outside, cows and sheep Lumber down the road Trailing dust behind them. Returning from their grazing grounds, Each knows its "home." Chickens peck in the dirt, Roosters crow, Dogs bark, scampering past dung bricks Piled high against the sides of houses, Smoke rising from the chimneys. Children play near clotheslines Heavy with laundry still flapping in the wind. And old dadeeks spinning wool into yarn Finally put down their eeleeks. The day is coming to an end. But tomorrow, another new day Wrapped always in the old ways here, Will come. And the mother will walk at dawn Down the winding dirt road To labor in the fields till dusk, While Lala sits Cross-legged on a mat On the concrete floor Next to the covered toneer In the toneer room near the house. Locked for safety there With water, bread, and fruit Lala will look at the ceiling and walls, At the window, At cherry pits strewn in the corner, And wait for evening, For her mother to come And take her to the house. It is night. Lala is washed And changed and fed by her mother Just as gently as the day she was born. She is helped into bed, the nicest in the house, And covered with a blanket, the best in the house. Lala coos and waves her arms in the air. Her mother nods, And with callused hands Softly strokes her daughter's cheeks again. Lala coos. Her mother weeps. June 2007 -- Knarik O. Meneshian was born in Austria. Her father was Armenian from Armenia and her mother was Austrian from Austria. She is a writer and teacher. She is married and lives in Glenview, Illinois, with her family. In 1991, Knarik taught English in the earthquake devastated village of Jrashen (Spitak Region), Armenia. In 2002-2003, she and her husband lived and worked as volunteers in Armenia for a year teaching English and Computers in Gyumri and Tsaghgadzor. Knarik's works have been published in Teachers As Writers, American Poetry Anthology and other American publications. Her various poems, stories, and articles have been published in The Armenian Weekly, Mirror Spectator, Asbarez, The Reporter, Hai Sird, Armenian Review, and Ararat. Her works have also appeared in the literary magazines Kroonk and Garoon published in Armenia, and on the Armenian sites Groong, Literary Groong, and Hetq. She has authored a book of poems titled Reflections, and translated from Armenian to English Reverend D. Antreassian's book titled The Banishment of Zeitoun and Suedia's Revolt.