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Like his mother, light is the first word our grandson is able to say, except that when she was a little girl, she said it much sooner and in Armenian: looys � or, if you prefer a different transliteration, luys. That was back in 1980, around the time I made a point of learning the Armenian alphabet and how to read in that ancient, poetic language � an endeavor that paid off immensely and still influences, by strange and unpredictable degrees, the way I write today.

Although I understand a fair bit, I don�t really speak Armenian, and have dreamed in it only a handful of times, at least two or three of which unfolded while I was awake, my tongue freed by the glow of new friendship and the influence of Armenian cognac.

Our grandson, who is twenty-two months old today, does quite a bit of talking, unimpaired as he is by meaning and other futile linguistic concerns. Some of it is emphatic, but the blossoming speech of his I like best arises in the form of explanation, and in pointing out things he has noticed. A recent, poignant example happened just the other day, when he suddenly became arrested by a small photograph of my father and his brother taken when they were about three and five. Both are smiling. Dad has a big mop of wavy hair, and Haig, who was killed in what is mistakenly called the Second World War, seems lit by mirth from within. The picture is beneath this framed representation of the Armenian alphabet, on a little table near our front door where it�s easy for him to see. I was sitting nearby. He looked at it, then looked at me, and began speaking softly yet urgently, just as if the boys had told him something � a secret, perhaps, a wise intonation of the invisible world they now inhabit, something they might already have tried to pass along to me and which I, in my profound deafness, was unable to hear.

I said yes, and the moment passed, as all moments do. He was satisfied, then showed me his balloon.

September 16, 2009

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Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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