They sat at the porch and stared at the street
for two days. No one talked. They had the patio
table and a bowl of roasted watermelon seeds
between them. From my bedroom window,
I could distinguish Grandma’s false set of teeth
and Mama’s back molars when they cracked seeds.
One sounded angry and the other grieved
over a dead husband. Mama offered Armenian
coffee without being asked because she knew
the salt intake made Grandma’s lips pucker.
They sipped the bitter residue silently and hoped
someone would predict their future hidden
in the curvature stains of the porcelain walls.
Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Alfred and Marguerite Hovsepian School in Pasadena and the co-director of the Los Angeles Writing Project. As an educator, he has been honored with the Los Angeles Music Center’s BRAVO Award, which recognizes teachers for innovation and excellence in arts education.
His recent poems have won Honorable Mentions in 2011 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and Arts & Letters Journal of Contemporary Culture. Shahé was a Semi-Finalist for the Knightville Poetry Contest. He was the first place winner of 2012 “Black and White” anthology series from Outrider Press. Gotham Writers recognized his poems “Geography Lessons” as one of the finalists at the 91-Word Memoir Contest. In 2016, one of Mankerian’s poems received a Pushcart Prize nomination from Altadena Poetry Review.