Zara Wants to Learn English in Armenia

Zara Wants to Learn English in Armenia | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Window frost. Courtesy of Callie Reed/flickr.

Through our monitors, we stare at each other.
The dim light cannot hide the moldy ceiling
behind her. We start. Today we must learn

to speak about the weather. “Are you cold?”
I ask. She smiles and says, “I don’t understand,
Shahé jan,” in a village dialect full of snow.

“You—” I almost tap at my touchscreen
as I point at her, “Cold?” My arms crisscross
over my chest as I imitate shiver. “No,” she lies

and unbundles the tattered shawl. She doesn’t
want her teacher to worry, but I can see
she’s pale like the pixilated frost on the window.

Shahé Mankerian is a poet and the principal of St. Gregory A. & M. Hovsepian School in Pasadena, California. His debut poetry collection, History of Forgetfulness, is forthcoming from Fly on the Wall Press in October 2021.
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