to decipher the insidious signals

has become a mind-game. each hello, a game

of chess. hidden behind each fiber of small talk

with a friend there is now always a listen, we got the visa,

dressed as words of triumph, awaiting congratulations. you’ll

never guess who’s leaving! but i can.

tugged within the grasp of a war-torn staircase

in Achrafieh a man who spoke with stars once said

my happiness awaits me upon a foreign

land. not here, but there, in emphasis.

he handed me a blue eye and said

to wrap it around my neck — a talisman

for my imminent journeying. dumb-struck and

scared and barely thirteen but i was famished

to know what awaits. always famished to know what

awaits. we paid him in birthday gift liras and ran out

as fast as we could. would you do it? Maya asked,

catching breath and leaning on a wall, unpacking

a sour candy her aunt had gotten her from Amrika. I don’t

know, I had told her. I couldn’t. there were all the tales

of cousins Myspace-ing their ways into the arms of

foreign men with promises of security. for a while

I had thought that was what was expected. to linger

here until promise body forths and calls my name into

its luring grounds. but would you go? Maya asked,

sparkling sounds of sugared acids seasoning

her every question. I would, she had proclaimed.

Akid. I knew she would. I remember being amazed by

her readiness to change air. the second day, school sent us

home early; an اغتيال had taken place again — the children

must be in the safety of home. I remember

the ecstasy we felt, Maya and I. إعراب was

no longer part of our day. we were too young to

understand the magnitude. when I speak to her now,

it is through expressions of sympathy. her Syrianness carried

her to the asylumatic warmth of Quebec and I have

not seen her ever since. when the Port of

Beirut exploded last year, she raised funds. HELP

THE PEOPLE OF BEIRUT, it was called

among vast oceans of international currencies to assist

our people — the left-behind, oppressed, suffocating

people. the outshiners lending hand to the ones who

have not yet mustered enough gut to get up

and leave. i remember gazing at the gunpowdered sky the day

after our government killed us, envious of the divine

dance the starlings weaved there, parting ways

with the land that tried so goddamn hard

to cut off their wings, wondering

when I would be following their lead.

By Perla Kantarjian

Perla Kantarjian is a Lebanese-Armenian writer whose works have been published in numerous publications, both print and online. Among her accomplishments are first-prize creative writing awards, both at the secondary school and university level. Her writing pieces have been published in various publications and magazines, including Bookstr, Elephant Journal, Academia, and more. Her most recent publications have been and will be in The Armenian Weekly, Stripes Magazine, Panoply, Rusted Radishes, The International Literary Quarterly, Otherwise Engaged, Indelible, The Hellebore, and Anti-Heroin Chic. Apart from her adventures with creative and journalistic writing, Kantarjian also teaches English literature and journalism at the International College in Beirut, is an invited Creative Armenia network member, and works as a freelance content writer for Bookstr. Her poem, “but i am only fiercely dreaming,” published in the 17th issue of Panoply, was recently selected as Editors’ Choice.

Leave a Reply