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The Literary Groong - 09/11/2004

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	FOR SERGEI

	By Mariam Firunts


	Sergei sat poised always in the sable,
	sultry Los Angeles evening
	Whose benevolent stars sewn from ivory tulle
	were the only elements
	Which did not threaten to devour him
	His silhouette traced in grey nicotine residue
	His black denim clad aristocratic limbs
	Into the sweltering Southern Californian climate
	Into the soot colored composition of the night.

	Spliced with a silk georgette skirt,
	Swaying, rustling in the inconstant morning breeze
	A five year old frame sashayed toward a building,
	Where they taught me only to forget

	In the evening, I gathered my silk georgette skirts
	as I reclined in the vacant chair next to him
	Folded them beneath me like a slip of paper
	Containing my history tucked in between
	The pages of an English textbook

	Sergei sat, his demeanor always majestic in
	the always sable
	Sultry Los Angeles evening,
	In the dominion of the moon
	Which was the only constant in
	An alien sky.
	A cigarette held designedly, outlining him
	In tomes of smoke

	He spoke in a language that was exiting
	My memory
	As rapidly as an airplane flying
	Transatlantic, supersonic across the sound barrier
	But the crackling of cigarette paper filled the
	Night with tobacco scented duduk music
	A wind instrument, on a night with no wind
	Only the vulgar refusal of the sun to put down
	Her martini glass and abandon the party
	When it has finished

	The Russian-Armenian dialect which had become to me
	as foreign as Damita
	was replaced with the language of smoke,
	And it was in this language that he communicated
	My history to me every night
	In the sweltering-sable-smoldering
	Los Angeles evening
	A history stored on the tip of his tongue
	In close proximity to a cigarette filter

	Bibliotheca used microfiche
	But he had constructed a different archival system
	>From painstakingly rolled paper and tobacco

	In the textbooks assembled from tar
	Were stories set in different decades
	Different aeons, but whose protagonists
	Were perpetually my grandmother
	Whose settings were perpetually Yerevan,
	Ejmiatsin
	Stories communicated in the smoldering
	Los Angeles sultry-evening

	The indigenous people of the southern plains
	Used smoke in feather festooned pipes
	to communicate with the supernatural;
	The past was supernatural to us
	We used smoke to communicate it.

	`Our memories are held together by
	an adhesive made from ice,'
	he said and in the arid afternoon
	acrid early evening,
	`Los Angeles is on fire.'

	Sergei in black denim
	Sergei draped in a tapestry of pedagogy
	Sergei silhouetted by an anthology of smoke-built pages,
	He was salamandrine.
	It was from him I first learnt
	How to live in the centre of a foreign fire
	How to withstand flame.


--
Mariam Firunts was born in Yerevan, Armenia. She currently resides in
Los Angeles, where she is working toward her BA in Comparative
Literature. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Eclipse
Literary Journal, Girl Wars (ed. Cheryl Dellasega), and the Claret
Arts Journal. Her written work and photography can be viewed at
www.thecinematheque.org.

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