On Hearing the Voice of a Child Singing Der Voghormia

A photo taken by the author from her mother’s beloved 1940s organ book. Pearl Bargamian served as the organist at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Providence.

Head bent, hunched forward on hard bench
Settling in for the eyes shut and
Bones and dirt and
Feeling alone.

But bones and dirt scatter with the
Voice of a child from behind the curtain.
Defying expectation, daring convention,
Lungs open, voice like a bell ringing in
Another way to know mercy and no-lament.

Strong and insistent, the child’s voice
Repeats and repeats
Der Voghormia, Der Voghormia,

This is our national grief-prayer
That we sing with
Hunched shoulders and bent heads
With the bones and dirt that live behind closed eyes.

But the child does not allow it today
With the clear voice that sings on and on
Illuminating words that move
North, south, east, west
And banish dark
With new light.

Because the child is now and whole and sure
That there will be mercy and justice for
The sick needing healing
And the bones in the dirt and
The ones who can cry no more.

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Georgi-Ann Oshagan

Georgi-Ann Bargamian Oshagan is a former editor of the Armenian Weekly. After 10 years working in community journalism, she attended law school and is an attorney, but she remains committed to her first love journalism by writing for the Armenian Weekly and contributing occasionally to the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

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