To Louise Mantashigian

Into the boiled cabbage leaf
she feeds rice, onions,
garlic, lamb,
humming a folk song
her father sang
to her on the banks
of the Euphrates
a century ago

When she pounds
the wet dough for bread
her mother’s dark eyes
appear in the shadows
her fists make
the wings of doves
lift and disappear

60 years
she bites her tongue with no tears
and quiets her heart
from that moment
when the Turk split
her mother in two pieces
Der Voghormia
watching the doves
lift her heart
toward heaven
Der Voghormia
Der Voghormia

Louise listens for the shoes
of her grandchildren, who climb
her stairs in America,
growing with each step,
she recognizes each foot
with clarity and name
and knows that each
will sit freely beside her
and listen to songs and stories
of a far away land