Saturday, July 4, 2009

At the Armenian Home

Even after his stroke and up to his death at the age of ninety-three, my grandfather never did forget who we were. Many at the Armenian Home in Fresno, where he chose to spend the last few years of his life, weren’t as fortunate. This short poem was inspired by our many visits there, and by the vineyards we used to pass on the way.

At the Armenian Home

He remembers
his old muscat vineyard,
but not their names.

Their faces are familiar,
like sunflowers
on wide, crooked stems.

The blue sky
above his field
is warm and clear.

His grapes are sweet,
with seeds like
small, hard stones.

He asks them to stay,
so they can enjoy
the abundant fruit.

Introduction and poem from Collected Poems, circa 2005. “At the Armenian Home” first appeared in Ararat (New York).

As the Conversation continues, an index is generated on the fly.


~im just only me~ said...

What is it with Armenians and Fresno? Coincidence only? Because the San Joaquin Valley looks like Armenia...??? I thought you might be the one to know... :)

William Michaelian said...

Absolutely. Let us discuss this at great length. (Snore...) When the Armenians washed ashore at Ellis Island, a great many stayed in the East. But the rich farm country of the Central Valley beckoned, and its familiar climate, its grapes, apricots, figs, tomatoes, melons, and cucumbers, its terrain rimmed by high mountains, and the idea that with hard work, they just might survive. And so, for several decades, on up until the Seventies when a new influx from the Middle East came to L.A., Fresno had one of the largest Armenian communities in the country. It is still home to many thousands — I don’t know the current number. Fresno State has an Armenian Studies program. I guess it involves putting Armenians into glass cases and then people come by and study them.... Or it might have something to do with history and language and culture.... Still awake?

~im just only me~ said...

intrigued, in fact. :)