A Condolence Card

Someone wrote, “She went to a better place,”
and I thought if Mama needed her orthopedic

shoes to walk to the bakery. Would she know
her limit when she feasted on slices of mana'eesh,

crumbles of akkawi, and salted cherry tomatoes?
Would the baker understand her Armenian-Arabic?

I want four green olives on the side dish
and sprigs of mint along the periphery of the crust.

Mama didn’t mind being served on oil-soaked
paper plates, napkins stolen from Starbucks,

or the gingham vinyl tablecloth, as long as
at this better place the baker didn’t pass

the godforsaken canola as olive oil.

SHAHÉ MANKERIAN is the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School and the poetry co-director at Rockvale Review. His manuscript, History of Forgetfulness, has been a finalist at the Bibby First Book Competition, the Crab Orchard Poetry Competition, the Quercus Review Press Book Award, and the White Pine Press Prize. In 2018, Sum literary journal nominated Mankerian’s poem “In Twos” for the Pushcart Prize. Two online publications, Border Crossing and Cahoodaloodaling, have nominated Mankerian’s poems for the 2018 Best of the Net. Visible Poetry Project animated Shahé’s poem, “The Last Mosque,” and premiered it at the 2018 New York City Poetry Festival. He received the 2017 Editors’ Prize from MARY: A Journal of New Writing.