Thursday, July 3, 2014

when your father dies: a poem


Before this summer, I had never come across this poem by Diana Der-Hovanessian. Yet in the span of one week, I read it on Susan Stabile’s blog, Creo en Dios—and I received a copy  in the mail from a good friend, who explained that the poem helped him find words for what he was feeling after the death of his dad.

I don’t believe in coincidences, so – I’m sharing it here, too, in case it is you who is meant to hear it next!

Shifting the Sun

When your father dies, say the Irish,
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.
May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Welsh,
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses. May you inherit
his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the French,
you become your own father.
May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the English,
you join his club you vowed you wouldn't.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever.
And you walk in his light.


"Shifting the Sun" by Diana Der-Hovanessian, 
from Selected Poems 
(Sheep Meadow Press, 1994)