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HAMPIG AND HIS BROTHER by Y. Stephan Bulbulian In the church hall, we sat at a table With folks that farm in the far reaches Of the county, between Parlier and Del Rey. Seldom seen, except on occasions like this, By their dress, it was evident They didn't get into town much. Hampig wore a tie from 1940. His brother wore a brown belt Above his mid-section, short arms Resting on his chest, fingers interlocked. They talked to Garig about the packing-shed, That old walnut tree his father planted In front of the tarpaper house, near the road Forty years ago, when the vines were planted; The 20 acres of black Muscats. Hampig spoke of family gatherings, Old customs celebrated on warm days, Sharing bread, cooked vegetables and lamb. Hampig's brother spoke of their parents, Now 20 years and 17 years gone, (The father died in a truck accident Hauling raisins in late summer). The mother couldn't live without him, or so The story goes, among the towns' women. The fathers' death was the slow final Heartbreak of her long life of grief. Like her mother, left to die In the Syrian Desert, she gave up. The same girl that escaped by a miracle, To live near Parlier, California. The ladies surmised that the parents death Made Hampig and his brother solitary people, Working alone among the dark grapes, Their house in the shadow of the old tree. They seldom ventured beyond their element. Once a week, the sister would drive to market. Though their faces were familiar and benevolent, They'd grown much older, time had been cruel. The sister, Susianne never married. Y. Stephan Bulbulian writes poems about Armenian life in the Diaspora, farming, heritage, and life in Fowler, California. Mr. Bulbulian's poetry has appeared in The Armenian Weekly, Asbarez, Nor Hayastan, and Hye Sharzoom. His poems have been anthologized in Vintage, 1994 and Vintage 1995, published by the Poets Of The Vineyard. Mr. Bulbulian was recently anthologized in Armenian Town, 6 Fresno Armenian-American Poets, published by the William Saroyan Society. His poetry is regularly featured in Ararat, a quarterly literary journal published by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU). Mr. Bulbulian was the 1990 AGBU Art Award winner for poetry. He is a member of the Fresno Poets Association, the New England Poetry Club, Poets Of The Vineyard and resides in Fowler, CA. Copyright © 2001 Y. Stephan Bulbulian