by George Kalogeris
When I read my poem about Mr Harotian,
The quiet leader of our high school band,
And how his son was always encouraging me
To take up the bugle, and though I never did
His immigrant father reminded me of mine,
With his tender aura of serious melancholy:
My father, who was not Armenian,
And not a musician, but who must have known
A thousand village songs, and many of which
Went back to Toúrkokratía: it was those songs
My workshop teacher recognized as soon
As I mentioned them, and said she could almost hear
The ancient sound of an oud and a shrill clarinet:
Music whose harrowing tunes our Mr Harotian
Never conducted while leading his marching band.
And then our teacher read her austere translation
Of a lyric poem by Daniel Varoujian,
One of those two hundred fifty Armenian
Scholars and artists who were rounded up first,
On the eve of what became, as she would insist,
“What the news refuses to call a genocide.”
Diana Der-Hovanessian. Just saying
The name it chimes with dispossession, and tolls
Me back to the lamentations my father sang.
And now it’s the sound of instruments from Asia
Minor I hear, as she, a herald of
Her people, sings the lines in her native tongue.
Copyright © 2018 by George Kalogeris.