Unfinished Ode: Upon the Clitoris

Violet Grigoryan was born in Tehran before her family repatriated in Armenia in 1975. One of the founders of the literary journal Inqnagir she is also the author of four books of poems. Grigoryan has won the Writers' Union of Armenia poetry award for [‘True, I’m Telling the Truth’] (1991), and the Golden Cane prize in literature for [‘The City’] (1998). Her poems have been anthologized in France, and in the English-language collections The Other Voice: Armenian Women’s Poetry Through the Ages (2006) and Deviation: Anthology of Contemporary Armenian Literature (2008).

Clit-clit-clitoris mine,
my itty-bitty fidgeter,
my voiceless little stammerer,
my tongueless little twitterer,
my curly-haired baby bull,
my gluttonous little gullet,
my rosy-pink-lipped cuntlet,
my windowless little chamber,
my stuttering baby gurgler,
my pretty little floater,
my giddy little giggler,
my boastful bonsaied puffer,
my naughty itchy toddler,
my ever erect mini-phallus,
my cherub with the golden tresses,
my groggy midget mourner,
my miniature clap-clapper,
my little underground trickster,
at times unshaven and at others
unfeathered and bebarbered,
my dwarfish flat-and-skin-head,
my inarticulate liplet,
my rose-fragranced breathlet,
my silent bashful bridelet,
my hider and lay-lower,
faint-hearted little groaner,
my full-of-nooks-and-crannies,
my coquettish mini-bouquet,
my: hyacinth, alpine poppylet,
garden-foundling, night-time warbler,
sparrow’s winglet, fledgling flier —
my breathless to-and-froer,
my daredevil madman of Sasun,
my twirling top and protean satan,
firing furnace and mini-oven,
audacious eternal flame,
my creaker and little cricket,
my teensy-weensy sweetie,
little hider of your heartlet,
valiant child and mountaineer,
my red-tootsied baby quail,
my quail-let, my wrap-arounder...

this was when my mother rang and said, my baby, she said, what’d you come back from America for, you could have hung on a little longer, no, and landed a green card? at least you had a job, you were sending back money and all, we were getting by somehow, baba chun. But now there’s the electricity and the water and god knows how we’re going to come up with the money, what’d they make us put that damn water-meter in for? and your brother doesn’t jimmy things the way the locals do, jam a magnet in there or whatever, the damn counter runs and runs like it was a wild animal, my god and it’s winter already, where are we going to dig up the money to pay the gas bill with, huh? and all the rest besides, baba chun... the day we turned our backs on Teheran and came to this dump was the day we ran out of luck for good, I didn’t want to come, it was that cricky-cracky, your grandma, who was in such a rush she couldn’t get her drawers up past her ankles, and she slept out in front of the embassy door at night so she could bring our family to its knees and our house to wrack and ruin, and Serop slipped the ambassador ten thousand tuman, help for the motherland, it was supposed to be, and then we came here and found out that that’s what they call a bribe, baba chun.... Remember our Persian neighbor aga Mehrzat, the one whose son Zami’s hand you bit so hard you came away with a mouthful of flesh? he used to say, aga Khachig, khanum Ani, shoma kar eshtebahi mikonin be Shoravi mirin, gozashte, nemitune keshvare khubi bashe, baba chun... but who are you telling that to, agha Khachig and his cricky-cracky mama were bonkers, me, I didn’t want to come, I used to be a khanum, I came here and turned into a “comrade,” a “sister,” first time somebody called me that I turned red, good thing they don’t know Persian1... Zhuzhu — that’s what we called you when you were little, remember?  — I want to tell you something, but don’t go and get mad now, Elmira came by and said davai, city hall’s giffing out bones wid a little fat on dem for poor people and eenvaleeds to make borsch with, so, Zhuzhu, I said, I’m an invalid and your father’s an invalid, let me go ask for help, as for you, you’ve gone stone blind sitting in front of that computer, you’re not bringing in money again, baba chun,2 I feel sorry for you, we’re a burden on you, aren’t we...?
I screamed and threw the receiver at the wall3.
...my eensy-weensy sweetie,
little hider of your heartlet,
valiant child and mountaineer,
my quail-let, my wrap-arounder...
my chubby little brooder
country almond and baby plum...
No, no go, I’m not in the mood any more, adboy, that’s it, finito, tamam, finis...