William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

A Stranger Looking In

Now and then, someone will tell me my work deserves a wider audience. The truth is, I used to feel that way myself, and I tried everything I could think of to enter that magic realm. But the years went by, and the need fell away as I came to understand that the perfect number for an audience is one, and that this relationship we have — yours, mine, ours — is the greatest blessing I can receive. And even if someday a million readers come my way, if I am alive, and if it is permitted by what is left of my mind, I will still feel the same. We are not born with numbers or bar codes stamped on our foreheads. Our character, or fate, perhaps. I will leave that to my dear departed aunts, whose faces I can still see, and whose voices I can still hear reading the fortunes of family members in their coffee cups — one at a time.

A Stranger Looking In

Someday I will meet
my old Armenian aunts
at the bottom of a
bone-white demitasse.

We will laugh
about our fortunes
clinging to the sides,
hung upon the grounds.

We will be a riddle
to a stranger looking in,
a caravan along
the path
of twisted fate,
our ways
rocky and unknown.

It says here
as clearly as today
that your wealth
is about to grow.

A year from now
your child will be born,
and your grandfather’s
ancient vineyard
will bear one last crop
before axes bring it down.

These hard times
will soon be done,
flowers will bloom
beside your door.

It will be a boy, I’m sure,
and the sweetest grapes
you’ve ever known,
for here is Noah
walking down,
a mountain at his back.

See him planting vines
at the foot of Ararat.

Songs and Letters, June 6, 2005

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Categories: Songs and Letters

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