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Poetry of Sarah Giragosian '06

Posted: April 24, 2006

Bath Abbey

By Sarah Giragosian '06

Outside the birds and angels storm the walls.
Their wings appear to be still usable,
not clipped or chipped away, but heavenly
ascension is slowgoing. Angels robed
in stone and flocks of fattened pigeons climb
a Jacob’s ladder slick from rain, its rungs
arranged to meet a sky that spills over
with vaporous colors of tea and milk.

At times I hear them laughing audibly
beneath the choir vault: beggars, mostly--those
who come to dry off when the rain starts. I
have started coming--not to pray or pry
into their suffering--only to look
around. The city, populated once
by noblemen and lepers, conquerors
and socialites, was England's capital
for getaways, a pamphlet tells me. I
have milled around the shops and manors, roamed
among the tombs, my camera posed to shoot
the scale-like stonework of old cathedrals,
their rambling naves, their bodies fantastic
like chimera or dragons. I have reined
them into rolls of film, subdued their fire
into bunched curls as thin as smoke and ghosts.

Today the city's lights and luster bleed
through stained glass windows, drawing us to Gods
with crowns the shades of goldenrod and plum,
to suns offsetting the electric blues
of angel tunics. Townspeople and guides
converge with travelers and joggers; we're
all drenched and blown away by fan-
vaulted, altitudinous ceilings. We
relax, entombed within the splashy bowels
of chimera as angels rain and thrum
their fingernails against the window panes.

The Scrimshander *

By Sarah Giragosian '06

Plates, screws and cage lumped
around his head, his body pressed
flat like an iron, the boy blisters
under his sheets. He tastes paste
and metal in his apple sauce and jello,
but doesn’t complain much of the pills,
only of being so still.

One afternoon, his father
brings him a box festooned with curlicue seas,
a ship running beneath a banner that reads
Deluxe Scrimshaw Kit, and a harpoon
flung like a flower to the great pyramid
of a dorsal fin. The boy is caught;
the touch of fake ivory beneath his fingertips
anchors him. Knife to bone, he works,
carving whalers, tiny, itinerant, bold,
bracing themselves against the plash of a wave
and the certainty of contact.
Their great whale, glimpsed and penned--
pinned, so to speak, to bone--
makes the crew look wonderfully cocky
in their dwarfed ship.
The transformation from beast to bustle--
blubber to bodice, oil or umbrella spoke--
is balanced on a knife stroke.
Such a painstaking labor, this art.
The boy aligns a universe
on a walrus tooth,
while the vessels and vertebrae
of his broken neck
quicken to keep up.

*Although the origin of the word "scrimshaw" is unknown, one possible etymology of the word is a Dutch phrase that means "a thrifty waste of one’s time."

Related Links:

Meet Poet Sarah Giragosian '06

Glascock History


Copyright © 2006 Mount Holyoke College. This page created and maintained by Office of Communications. Last modified on June 13, 2006.