The dog days of summer
ushered the ride of a request
for the wild roller coaster
with shouts blurring features
and fingers sprawling on sprawl.
It was what we had left.
We threw alphabets to the stars
still hidden by daylight.
It was ABC for me
and ayp, pen, kim for you,
the English-Armenian combination
that had made us a team.
They explained water beliefs:
tears of pond,
incentive of rivers,
ocean trips with tips for carriers.
I asked which ocean you liked best,
including those at the equatorial belt.
You answered the one
without any mosquito bites,
though mosquitoes left you alone
after the initial malaria.
Yet the cinnamon spice
and lemonade favored our taste.
Or perhaps the strength
of coffee or pastis encouraged
the Lebanese or the French,
the machinations of Italian ice,
the popular ballads of the time
or time itself.
Amazement stitched us like rags,
bumping against so many spots
on the Mediterranean coast.
We were stubborn wood
like the mahogany of our tables
because we were not alone.
Helene Pilibosian’s poetry has appeared in such magazines as The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Louisiana Literature, The Hollins Critic, North American Review, Seattle Review, Ellipsis, Weber: The Contemporary West, Poetry Salzburg Review, Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies as well as many anthologies. She has published the books Carvings from an Heirloom: Oral History Poems, the Writer’s Digest award-winning At Quarter Past Reality: New and Selected Poems and History’s Twists: The Armenians (honorable mention). Helene’s early work has been cited in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature. She holds a degree in humanities from Harvard University. She is the current head of Ohan Press, a private bilingual micropress.