William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘My Grandfather’

A Flower for Marian

Today is the birthday of my father’s little sister, Marian. It is also the anniversary of my grandfather’s death in 1990 and the day the ancient orthodox Armenian Church observes Christmas — except in Jerusalem, where the Brotherhood at the Monastery of St. James follows an older calendar and Christmas falls on a later date. In the dimly lit, incense-laden sanctuary of St. James itself, there is a nook where […]

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A Letter to the Boys

Yesterday afternoon I cleared the driveway of snow with one of the old manure shovels my father and grandfather used on the farm during the Great Depression and after the Second World War, and which we continued to use in later years, and which now reside, along with several other tools from that earlier time, in an old barrel in the little shed behind the house. While I was out, […]

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Proud Old Men In a Row

More snow during the night — about an inch, maybe a little less. Thirty degrees on the front step; barefoot down to the end of the driveway, and then back up, possibly a little colder. Still, relatively speaking, the weather is mild. Real cold — Solzhenitsyn’s cold and Jack London’s cold — is not a joke. It is not to be trifled with. It’s easy to walk barefoot outside for […]

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Cross My Heart

One hundred thirteen degrees. Yesterday afternoon, in the grass behind the house, we set a little sprinkler for the birds. It made a shallow lake in the shade. And out they came from the bushes, and down from the trees, children of the leaves. The tomatoes and peppers did not mind the heat. We protected the cucumbers with a sheet. We will again today. At four this morning it was […]

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Under Our Hats

I found an ancient pair of worn out jeans and cut them off a little above the knee. I’m wearing them now. I wore them early this morning while working barefoot in the garden and watering our assorted plantings and pots. Dirt, water, sun — childhood. We bought half a crate of strawberries yesterday. They’re called “Ruby June.” For whatever lucky reason, I’ve had more close-up meetings with birds. As […]

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The Old Road

One Hand Clapping February 2004

Who knows why, but this morning I find myself thinking about jackrabbits, vineyards, and dust. These are but a few significant emblems of my childhood, which, rather than ending, gradually became the insanity I labor under today. Polliwogs, crawdads, slow-moving mossy water. The sound of our tractor in the distance, the tractor and my father pursued by a cloud of blackbirds looking for bugs, seeds, and worms. As I look […]

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My Father Walking, and Twenty-Four Other Things

It occurred to me recently that I walked more than a thousand miles in the immediate neighborhood during the past year, and several hundred more on state park trails — in terms of sheer distance, roughly halfway across the continent. This is hardly a profound realization. But though it was made in small increments, the journey itself was far from mundane. And a journey it remains. Another year and I […]

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At the Armenian Home

Even after his stroke and up to his death on January 6, 1990, at the age of ninety-three, my father’s father 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 visits there, and by the vineyards we used to pass on the way. “At […]

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Between Rides

Would I rather be peeled like an onion, opened like a pomegranate, or eaten like a fig? The answer changes from day to day. And yet if you were to ask me now, this moment, I would say all three. Or I might be a walnut, whose heart is exposed with the breaking of day. My grandfather had a pecan tree. The jays would pick up the nuts, and then […]

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The Long Way to Goose Lake

The long way to Goose Lake on a bright frosty morning, birds in the sun over a field of stubble. Or is it your grandfather’s face? Yes, it is, he has returned. No, he hasn’t, he never departed. Yes, you are in his lap and you feel his warmth. And the birds are his thoughts, they are everything he remembers, they are songs of old times never quite ended, only […]

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