Armenia, 1915

Everything that is inevitable
has already happened.

My dead bones
beneath this earth.

My unholy spine
& needy claws. Today

& every single day, the grey-steam clouds
are lower than they have ever been.

Short bare trees edge from the earth
& I shiver below the earth.

The landscape is made of dust.
The Syrian desert is made of dust.

Little pieces of bone
crushed deep to gravel.

Swallowing gold will kill you.
Too much of it will kill you.

We prosper in gold. We live in it.
It’s a funny thing to exist for nothing

more than the surprising feat of survival.
Or chance. And the thing that kills us.

To take a mountain. To stain
a landscape. To burn a city. To kill

a poet. We breathe together. Real gods
knife you up. I see myself

in the water. I was trying
to swallow the water.

A reversal of faith—what kind of god
would allow this to happen?—or, more

likely: what kind of god would intervene
in something like this?

They kept their faith. They understood that their god
could do nothing when he, too, was protecting

himself. He tried
his best. He stained

his clothes. He plucked women
from the water. I was trying to drown

in the water. He washed them ashore.
He saved their children. He ate them

but only because he was starving.
I’m so sorry, he said. But they are starving me.

The women understood. The men
were slaughtered trying.

Trying slaughtered. We still have objects
from the old country. Last night, I woke from a dream

with a piece of the dream in my hand.
They were three flat

angular gold pieces. I held them
until they disappeared.

Slowly, they melted into my hands
& I woke up.

They live inside me.
They live in my hands.