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The Literary Groong - 03/14/2009

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	EPITAPH

	by Helene Pilibosian


	In memory of my mother, who was
	one of the orphans at Ghazir

	The battle was within and without
	kinder minds caught in
	the World War I frame.
	Ideals seem to have been lost
	along the stony path of fate
	children tread in that museum
	of orphans in Armenian,
	in Greek, and in Assyrian.
	Traveling from Switzerland,
	Dr. Kuntsler read beyond
	the vagaries of violence,
	beyond the ripping of pregnant bellies,
	the starved desert marching,
	the celebrating guns
	that wore the Ottoman seal.
	No one was left
	to the innocence of towns.
	Parents were mowed down like grass,
	while children who were lucky
	were kidnapped and enslaved.

	What herbs grew in the garden
	of semi-haze and dew
	could not nourish anymore.
	Parents were few.
	The exodus bore dry mouth and hunger
	for food and sympathetic touch.
	Dr. Kuntsler took the orphans
	out by caravan of donkeys and horses.
	Oral history trailed like a vagrant goat
	existing on wild shrubs.
	As nothing had been wasted
	in the villages, no one remained
	to investigate the usages,
	the importance of life
	become a scrap of bread.

	The Turkish will said,
	the orphans reached their trades:
	rug weaving and carpentry,
	tailoring and business.
	America and Europe had
	the necessary skills
	and Arab countries opened their doors.
	The end of what was begun
	serves as an epitaph of a kind.


--
This poem is the twin of the poem "Grandparent Herbs" in History's
Twists: The Armenians, a new book of poems by Helene Pilibosian.  She
has also published Carvings from an Heirloom: Oral History Poems, the
award-winning At Quarter Past Reality: New and Selected Poems as well
as co-written and edited They Called Me Mustafa, her father's story.
She is the owner of Ohan Press at http://home.comcast.net/~hsarkiss.
Her e-mail is hsarkiss@comcast.net.

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