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The Literary Groong - 08/11/2007

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	THE LADY IN GYUMRI

	By Knarik O. Meneshian


	Like feathers falling from a torn pillow, 
	Snow flakes tumble  
	Onto streets and walks,
	Bare trees, withered grass, dead flowers; 
	Onto roof tops, telephone wires, and the occasional clothesline.
	In the frosty cold, 
	Quiet beauty shimmers everywhere,
	And I remember the lady in Gyumri.

	I never saw her face
	Nor heard her voice.
	Did she laugh or cry much?
	Did she dare to hope or even dream
	Amidst the poverty and shabbiness 
	That had become a rite of passage 
	For many in that far away place?
	I never found out.

	While there,
	Each morning from my kitchen window,
	Doing chores,
	I only saw her milk-white hands and arms
	Opening her kitchen window, 
	One hand reaching out, palm up. 
	The weather did not matter,
	Nor did the day - 
	There was work to be done.
	The same work in the same allotted time 
	Each day - 
	Because of the water. 

	Just when the water came
	Ruled her day  
	As well as everyone's in that city.
	It had become a part of her,
	A part of everyone - 
	Like breathing.

	First, from her window 
	She'd shake out a pair of little black socks, 
	Big black socks,
	Little black trousers,
	Big black trousers,
	A little white shirt,
	A big white shirt,
	A slim blue dress with faded pink flowers,
	Three sheets,
	Three towels, 
	A tattered brown housecoat,
	And some rags.  

	Done at last,
	She'd slam shut the window
	As if to announce to the sky
	And the birds flying above,
	The sooty snow
	And crumbling concrete ground below,
	The widowed village lady
	Peddling her matzoon and milk,
	Even the barking, hungry street dogs,
	"I am finished!"

	Later, opening the window again,   
	This time more slowly 
	And with grace,
	To hang clothes, 
	Washed clean by hand, 
	On a clothesline 
	Riding on a rusted pulley
	Groaning each time it was moved
	To make room 
	For one more piece,
	And still one more.
	Flapping in the wind,
	The clothes on the line
	Looked like flags 
	Beckoning...

	Now, as I look out of my kitchen window 
	So far from Gyumri, 
	I watch a bird
	Perched on the snow-covered clothesline
	In my backyard.
	It dances.
	Squirrels leap 
	From fence to apple tree
	Nibbling frozen fruit,
	And rabbit tracks dot the snow.
	The water flows freely here. 

	January 2007


--
Knarik O. Meneshian was born in Austria. Her father was Armenian from
Armenia and her mother was Austrian from Austria. A writer and
teacher, she is married and lives in Glenview, Illinois with her
family.  In 1991, Knarik taught English in the village of Jrashen
(Spitak Region), Armenia. In 2002-2003, she and her husband lived in
Armenia for a year as volunteers and taught English and Computers in
Gyumri and Tsaghgadzor. Her various works have been published in
American and Armenian publications.  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.

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