For the Sake of Argument

For a whole month corpses were observed floating down
the River Euphrates nearly every day, often in batches. . . .
— from the account of a German missionary

Say that nothing
happened in 1915

no massacres in Zeitoun
no Van or Kharpert

no wild dogs lapping
at the throats of the dead

say there were no eyewitnesses
no missionaries in the mountains of Kars

no death caravans
winding through the streets

say there were no consuls at the window
hearing the cries

say nothing occurred
none of it a matter of public record

no million dead or million more
scarred into silence

say nothing happened
no one heard

and say the hunger deserts
were empty of all the voices

and the rivers of thirst
were flowing like other rivers

without memory now
of any of it

—Gregory Djanikian

Gregory Djanikian was born in Alexandria, Egypt, of Armenian parentage. He came to the United States when he was 8 years old and spent the remaining years of his childhood in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

[Research note: Gregory Djanikian, So I Will The Ground (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2007), p. 30.]