Even Violated Rocks Have Memories…

A Poem of Julfa Cemetary

A photograph taken in 1915 by Aram Vruyr showing part of the medieval Armenian cemetery of Julfa. (Photo courtesy of A. Ayvazyan/armenica.org)

Who knows this place ancient Armenian land?
Jasmine uplifting fragrance, Shushan yellow lily flowers whirling through
Julfa Cemetery 10,000 Khachkars (Armenian Stone Crosses)
Vertical tombstones. Intricately carved volcanic basalt

My brain bursts with the want of
Knowing my ancestors who made stone into lace
Tree of Life, wheel of eternity suns
Nightingales singing to rams horns

Silk and spice caravans
Weaving through
Cardamom cinnamon breezes

Hospitable Armenian hearth
Warming walnut brandy
Engraved treasured books.
Kissed trees with offerings
Of tied cloth for the sick.

Neighbors who help plant
Swaying wheat fields,
Take turns bringing sheep
To pasture at dawn

The stars are the lamps
Of their souls that
Worshipped both
The moon and sun.

Just wanted to live in peace
But situated on Near East
Western Asia crossroads
Of many colonizing powers
Who coveted everything.

What fate guided Armenia to convert
To the first Christian nation 301AD?
What destiny? We call it “Chakatagir.”
The mark on our foreheads

Did our eagle eyes see
Persecution, Abduction, and Genocide?
Did our harmonic ears ever hear
So many prayers unanswered?

Sacred Khachkars atop
Three wind swept hills face
Churning Araxes river
Which hold the bones of
Forcibly deported Armenians drowned 1604 Persian Muslims
Burned centuries of heritage flaming homes, manuscripts

Thick smoke rises covering the sun
Another conqueror Azerbaijan forced out remaining Armenians
Invaders now occupying my maternal grandparents homeland

My beloved tatig Sandoukt
Obsidian strength inside me
Souls of departed become birds
Perched on the incense tree
Radiated by generational
Khachkar spiritual survival strength

Fear power of buried dead exposing
Whose ancestral land this really was
Venomous swarm of Azeri soldiers fed on hate 2005
With heavy sledge hammers, axes

Smashed precious Khachkars to bits
Bulldozed imprisoned Julfa cemetery
Now Azeri army base and training camp
Soldiers marching over Armenian bodies

UNESCO toothless puppet Azerbaijan
Pulling strings of allowed Cultural Genocide
Now Azeris say “No Armenian ever lived here”
But even violated rocks have memory

These fractured rocks remember their whole,
Record the stress of separation
Enslaved as part of enemies construction
Yet still breathe their past honored lives

My soul hovers over vandalized epitaphs
Spirits of the destroyed Khachkars
Talk to me; tell me to write this poem
Encouraging you to search for photos

To see our stone love
While I search for a place
To put my flowers in the vase
Of the shattered and disappeared

 

(2018)

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Anoush Ter Taulian

Anoush Ter Taulian is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley. In 1992, she decided to relocate to Artsakh where she volunteered in the liberation struggle alongside Monte Melkonian. She has depicted the Armenian struggle for freedom in poetry, paintings, videos, and radio. A lifelong activist speaking in schools, churches, and at anti-racism conferences, Anoush continues to bring up current attacks on Artsakh at indigenous, women's, and political conferences.
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1 Comment

  1. Anoush
    Unfortunately, our well-civilized progressive nation sandwiched between aggressive blood thirsty uncivilized invaders. We have no other choice but to survive with our own power and wisdom. May God bless the Armenian Nation!

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