It was a day like today,
dark clouds threatening rain
when we lived in different neighborhoods
on opposite sides of that townthat we drove
in our separate cars to meet
on the streets of Fresnos West Side
for a walk we had planned that morning.

And we were there, tramping along together
shouting and laughing in Armenian
two lugubrious Armenian-American writers
cursing and defining, again pushing for the truth
against the glistening streets of that cold winter
memory, long ago.

While we walked and talked you began looking
for objects: lost, or forgottenin the
gutters and doorways, or underfoot
and so I began looking, too, while you recited
your mothers admonishment of long ago
never, she told you, your brother and sisters
return from the streets with an empty hand.

We entered a Chinese grocery store for bags
emptying our pockets and full hands into paper sacks,
continuing as we exited, to discuss the subject
of who we were, how we came to be, and what
we might become, until at once you halted
before the curb, and looking up, pronoounced:

I used to think because we were
Armenians we must be perfect,
but of course I was to find out that
there was much that was imperfect
in us, and the thing I find now that we
have, is on the one hand a kind of
exuberance for the comedy and folly
of life, along with a form of energy for
business that seems to take on a kind
of slyness and opportunism that is
characteristic of people long oppressed.

Then we fell silent, waiting for the void
to close over what was said,
before walking againcompleting the circle
I did not know we had been walking in
until we were standing between
our cars once more, bags clutched
in our handsanother day, all mixed
like the contents in these bags,
collected not to be lost.

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