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By Laura Rink

My Armenian grandmother, who told us little of her life in Turkey, planted her window box with red geraniums, and now that she is no longer here to answer my questions, I wonder if the geraniums and their color meant anything other than a personal preference—a quick internet search reveals that red is the color of Armenian national garments and rugs, and what’s more, the dye comes from an insect, a cochineal, indigenous to the Armenian Highlands, and its use is noted in the Old Testament and records dating from 714 BC, and as my research continues I find the narrative of the Armenian people stretching back three thousand years on the same highlands, on a major trade route, merchants and soldiers, nomads and crusaders, the entirety of human history a tide bringing goods and war, and taking away horses and sovereignty, which is the story of my unnamed ancestors spread across some 200,000 square miles, three thousand years as mysterious as twenty-three, my Armenian grandmother’s age when she came to America, her life before hushed, her voice hidden in the brown and brittle letters spread over the top of the black steamer trunk as I search for my family, as I seek a single cochineal insect in a field of red flowers.

Laura Rink is pursuing her MFA in creative writing at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, researching and writing about her Armenian family and the 1915 Armenian genocide for her creative thesis and for her critical paper, exploring how authors write into silence, the private silence of untold stories and the public silence of suppressed stories.

Photo by Jeff Kallet.


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