Rug Game

               by Armen Davoudian 

This is before your rugs and you were gone:
we’re treading the woven streets of Icbatan,

my cousins, you, and me—parents away
while we sneak from Samarkand to Uruguay.

Among the fallen cypresses we pass
friendly gazelles grazing on knotted grass.

Redundant roses kiss our sockless feet,
and silent nightingales sing to their beat.

Where have you stashed the green unsmiling mullah?
I’ll be the first one to dig up the moolah!

Clouds and camels, amulets of eyes,
dust bunnies, cigarette butts, and two dead flies . . .

Look, it’s here! Tucked under the trellised band,
I always found it, just as you had planned:

from rugs to riches, Kashan to Heriz,
you made it seem like money grew on trees.

Of course it did. You could do everything,
thumbing our days like beads along a string:

rug game, car ride, ice cream, bedtime story.
A farting mullah? Plot twist: a disguised houri!

And bedtime. No! Courage, my boy, my heart,
light of my eyes, my liver, my every part,

may the mouse eat you, may God burn your father,
I am your shoelace, and I guard your weather . . .

I’ve lost the thread, Grandpa . . . as I lost you?
Too cheap. The ends don’t meet. Just say what’s true:

the ends don’t meet but you have met your end—
a burn-hole I might patch, but cannot mend.

*The italics in lines 22-24 translate terms of endearment from Persian and Armenian
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