Best of the Net 2016  

Family History

No god is more inscrutable than ours.
Think of how our century began: red fistfuls
of pomegranate blossoms knuckling the windows
in the early dawn, a warning missed and a call to rise.
And at the doors—the early monsters
of modernity, trained to be meticulous, expedient,
propitiated neither by suffering or the skirl of exile.
Think of your grandmother with her rabbit-beat heart
who knew something about hope's atrophied muscles
and the secrets of rubies. She scooped pomegranate seeds
into her pockets, lined her body with an invisible god.
During the march, he roosted in her inner ear and whispered back
such strange flashes of memory: the first clean A
she played on her spiked fiddle, the last goat she skinned,
the wet cord that tied her to her son, the gleam of her sister's scissors
that snipped it off, the gleam of the bayonet that killed him.
She watched her daughter's ribs peek through the skin,
and in time, realized that god is anonymous
and intimate as a nurse who can deliver pain
or take it away in the same breath.
What do we say? Our family history?
A death sentence, and yet—
you breathe. You tell me the rest.

- Sarah Giragosian (from The Baltimore Review)