The Fox Fur

The silver fox of my childhood

was an old neck-piece belonging

to my aunt. I'm sure it still hangs

in a corner of her kitchen pantry,

lording it over rows of crockery jars

of pungent hot peppers and briny

celery and carrots. Nearby

white ceramic jars of rice and lentils,

jars of golden bulgur. The fox surveys

it all from above. A cat owns

it all from below where it sleeps.

In summer we would climb the nearby

wooden stairs to lie on the flat

roof. The stars would fall close

enough to count in the Near Eastern

city where the lights would dim

in the Armenian quarter with sections

of old names made new: New Adana, New

Marash, New Sis. Where all the old

houses with nut trees, apricot trees,

had pantries of dried fish, fresh fruit.

We would sleep on the roof until

the middle of the night, when

the pantries would call us down

with their yogurt and cheeses.

Now my aunt sends letters asking me

to come home. No need. I am there.

I am there.

* Translated from Armenian by Diana Der-Hovanessian

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