from The Color of Pomegranates

for Sayat Nova and Sergei Parajanov

Before the monastery in Haghbat
prior to the Persian invasion
and death’s black end
that finished my singing

I was the master of song
my love a passion overflowing
the vessel of our lives
birthing poetry

Harmony realized through
creative energy
my beloved books
become the tools of your seduction

Handmade poet’s lyre
turning the inlaid handle
tuning my instrument to your key
each strum upon the body
brings me closer
to the essential

You work the threads of my childhood
Its color and aroma
into the lace of your purity
through you I discover my grace

A gentle wind streams silk
I am the wandering nightingale
burning this white rose for you
water flows over stone
in the Turkish bath of my desire

‘I am careful with your mouth, you speak in fables…’

We players now imbibe love
skipping, drumming, whirling
as we empty our vessels

‘How am I to protect my wax-built castles of love
from the devouring heat of your fires?
You are fire, your dress is fire.
We were searching for a refuge for our love;
instead we found the land of the dead.’

Prodding the lion with a stick
the vultures eye orbs
life’s fragility a globe of glass
tossed in the air, harbinger of
midnight horses and animal hides
antlers and barren branches

Peacock drinks from your lips
muskets fire above your still breast
your death cements my longing
spurs me along the path
lined with stained rubies

The walls of the mausoleum
preserve the tattered ash
of my words
you exist only here, abandoning us
an encaustic imprint
of the dramaturgy of color

Memory shifts the frame of consuming passion
moves me with its rhythm
you wove the lace of death
its visage conceals my pain
your shells upon the black vase

Death obscures your almond eyes
I cannot recognize you
or see my image reflected within

The peacock cries in the window
I will follow you through the black door
though I am cloaked in your colors
I am forbidden to enter now –
blind to the source of my life
I wait for the Persians

‘Who took my mind? I did not see the magician.’

Sayat Nova was an Armenian poet/troubadour (1712-1795) born Harutyun Sayadian in Tiblisi. Sayat Nova means ‘master of song’. His wife, Marmar, died leaving him with their four children. He was killed during the Persian invasion. All quotes are translations of his poetry. Sergei Parajanov was a Soviet Armenian film director. His film The Color of Pomegranates is based on Sayadian’s life. He was banned from making cinema for 15 years following its release for putting aesthetic concerns over ideology.

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