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THE RIDDLE 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.