You were the color of a dove & I don’t know what to do
about that. I have never understood how to cup my hands
& take communion. Like a faithful daughter, I carry this
with me. I stab it with feathers & pray until it is covered
in gems. I rinse it in the river that knows my blood, wring
it out beneath a full moon. I know nothing about bird calls.
I know nothing about meat. Bless the river & all the fish
we poisoned. Foreign fluids. Bless the red birches forced
to watch. I want to burn something, so I char the flesh
of a catfish & think of myself. Girl as carp. Small tragedy
with freshwater pearls. I baptize myself in this water
& I see myself float in this water. Somewhere, a flock
of crows & I don’t hear anything over the soft breath
of river fish as they touch me in places that don’t exist.
This poem appeared in Indiana Review 37.1, Summer 2015.
Emily Corwin (Poetry Editor): Talin Tahajian’s poetry is tender, melodic, and sensuous. I can never get enough of her writing, especially this poem—the way she explores faith through images of birds, water, fish. This poem sweeps me up like the river running through it. If you have not read Talin’s work, you definitely should—her poems are necessary and gorgeous and exactly what you need.
Talin Tahajian grew up near Boston. Her poetry has recently appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Indiana Review, Best New Poets 2014 & 2016, Salt Hill Journal, Passages North, Columbia Poetry Review, and Washington Square Review. She’s the author of two chapbooks, The smallest thing on Earth (Bloom Books, 2017) and Start with dead things (Midnight City Books, 2015), a split chapbook with Joshua Young. She edits poetry for the Adroit Journal and is currently a student at the University of Cambridge, where she studies English literature.