I Ask My Grandmother If We Can Make Lahmajoun

By Gregory Djanikian b. 1949 Gregory Djanikian
Sure, she says, why not,   
we buy the ground lamb from the market   
we buy parsley, fresh tomatoes, garlic   
we cut, press, dice, mix   

make the yeasty dough   
the night before, kneading it   
until our knuckles feel the hardness   
of river beds or rocks in the desert   

we tell Tante Lola to come   
with her rolling pins we tell   
Zaven and Maroush, Hagop and Arpiné   
to bring their baking sheets   

we sprinkle the flour on the kitchen table   
and it is snowing on Ararat   
we sprinkle the flour and the memory   
of winter is in our eyes   

we roll the dough out   
into small circles   
pale moons over   
every empty village   

Kevork is standing on a chair   
and singing   
O my Armenian girl
my spirit longs to be nearer

Nevrig is warming the oven   
and a dry desert breeze   
is skimming over the rooftops   
toward the sea   

we are spreading the lahma
on the ajoun with our fingers   
whispering into it the histories   
of those who have none   

we are baking them   
under the heat of the sun   
the dough crispening   
so thin and delicate   

you would swear   
it is valuable parchment   
we are taking out   
and rolling up in our hands   

and eating and tasting again   
everything that has already   
been written   
into the body.

Source: Poetry (May 2002).

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2002 issue of Poetry magazine

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May 2002
 Gregory  Djanikian

Biography

Gregory Djanikian’s collections include So I Will Till the Ground (2007), Years Later (2000), Falling Deeply into America (1989), and The Man in the Middle (1984). His poems have also appeared in numerous magazines and journals, such as Poetry, the Nation, and the American Scholar, as well as on television, when he was featured on PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

His work explores, among other things, the private and public . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Activities, Eating & Drinking

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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