(Photo: Will Esayenko/Unsplash)

Deep brown hints of secrets
are hidden in her eyes.
A faraway gaze out the window
into distant lands, she remembers
the smell of sand,
a shapeless sanctuary.
A nameless nomad, she ran
with the ocean waves.
The moon peeked at night
whispering a name she no longer remembers
but still hears.

In small steps, she enters the door,
smelling for permanence.
Her eyes, a past in pieces, carry secrets
that fly away
with every bird she sees.
Cracked seashells left scars on her feet.
In confused captivity, she weeps
for the moon that once knew her.
A body unfamiliar,
soft and thick skinned.

She found her freedom inside books,
her ocean waves in the pages inside,
she pulled them out from bookshelves in slow silent sweeps.
Pages of her past, she rips apart,
gnawing the skin of books unknown,
pageless, her eyes stare,
like books unbound on tiles of marble.

Now, she tells stories of green fields, car rides with the windows
down, peanut butter from a
spoon, and people who stayed.
She sways from side to side on the sidewalk,
greeting strangers with caution and likability.
In a land of concrete, she’s drawn to puddles of past dreams.
She jumps in and out, wide grins and splashing feet,
her past has taught her the essence of water and survival.

She gets in the car slower now
but knows how it smells
the same way she knows me.
Fourteen years, gone too fast,
her bones weaker, her skin scratchy,
she turns and tells me not to worry,
sighing in meditative adventure.
She sticks her head out the window
smelling everything that ever was.
Ocean waves and sand and moons,
all the places she ran fearless and free.
Highways and homes and couches,
all the places she’s traveled with me.

She takes deep breaths of summer air,
staring at the world with newborn curiosity,
her eyes like two life lessons
on pages of a book she left behind
an heirloom, torn and timeless.

We stick our heads out the window,
breathing in fleeting moments
like flashes of fading pictures.
Summer turns to fall between blinks.

Still, the golden outline of her eyes
sing a wild innocence, always, innocence,
her name.


Nayiri Panossian

Nayiri Panossian is an Armenian-American teacher living in New Jersey. She graduated from Rutgers University with a major in English and minor in Psychology. She then earned her MA in English Education from New York University. Nayiri is an active member of the Armenian community, teaching Armenian in churches in her community. Although she remains loyal to her roots within the Diaspora, she is also consistent in her efforts to help and strengthen ties with her homeland. She has volunteered in Armenia —with the AGBU Yerevan Summer Intern Program teaching Creative Writing at the American University of Armenia, and with Birthright Armenia and the Armenian Volunteer Corps. Nayiri is currently a high school English teacher in the Bronx. She lives with her son in New Jersey.

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