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A Ghazal to a Mountain

Suren Oganessian
Staff Writer

The symbol of my grandfather’s homeland is a mountain.
What it means to be Armenian lies within this mountain.

They dangle it in our faces, at the edge of our border, a silent mockery.
It’s in your face but you can’t grab it, this mountain.

Its name is Ararat, with its two curving slopes, no longer part
Of Armenia, still dominate the land, this mountain.

For centuries a part of Armenia’s culture, heritage and folklore,
The vishaps still live there, ready to scorch those who disturb the mountain.

The empire of Urartu ruled Ararat before Armenia did.
Then Persians, Romans, Arabs, Mongols, until the Turks stole the mountain.

Because human beings happen to be such territorial animals
There is a border separating my people from their holy mountain.

The native Armenians only have a border between them and Ararat.
I happen to have an ocean and a continent between myself and the mountain.

I’ve seen its pictures many times, even its photos never fail to impress.
Everything Armenians suffered for centuries is encased in a mountain.

Everyone sings Mer Hairenik and I stand, a lost child in a church, beneath flags
Of red, blue and orange, beneath a painting on the wall of that mountain.

All I have are the images, having been exiled from that land before my birth.
I am only a quarter Armenian, but I try not to lose sight of that mountain.

The meaning of Suren is shrouded in mystery, a memento from my grandfather.
I search the debris of my ancestor’s past for my identity, for my mountain.