Visit to Lake Sevan

Visit to Lake Sevan

We took the main road to Georgia,
left Yerevan behind,
on our way to Lake Sevan,
the blue plum shed of rind.
I knew it could not be like my dream vision,
for all the cranes had migrated south to Egypt.
Stone eagle statue stood on a bend in the road,
wings arched high, talons clutching the rock
it perched on, as if not long swooped down from the sky.
It told us we were entering wild mountain country,
home of the bird aristocracy who soar high.
Our driver was our guide.
Was a musician, played Classical violin.
Said it was impossible to live on a few drams in Yerevan,
so he was a tour guide, to help him turn the wheel and win.
He pointed up at a mountain,
as we swung round higher ground,
to show where he went skiing in winter, above Flower Valley.
He drove by a town he said was built in the Soviet time.
It stood in a dip in the land.
Tower blocks of dull grey and brown stone,
named Sevan after the lake.
Round and down the road led on.
Suddenly, we were there where we were bound.
To my right lay part of the lake,
big enough to be a bay of a sea,
a rippling mirror of blue October sky.
Mountains encircled, bare and brown.
My eyes grew large, my mind woke.
Only seagulls braved the chilly air.
Our guide stopped his white car at the foot of a hill.
Several levels above the shore of the lake,
he led us up a stone step way.
That it was narrow, steep and winding,
a difficult climb, an ordeal,
a spiritual trial made concrete, seemed appropriate,
for it led to a monastery that stood alone on the hill top,
as close to heaven as it could be.
In the name of Mary and Jesus, her son,
it was built, long ago, by the command of Princess Mariam.
On the way up, we were stalled by hawkers,
sellers of candles, paintings, trinkets, crosses.
Before we passed through the door,
our guide told us of Thaddeus and Bartholomew,
the two apostles who brought from the east
their master’s word to Armenia,
to break its pagan temple pattern,
to begin its Apostolic Church,
older than the church of Rome.
I was pleased it was Sunday,
for inside the monastery,
we witnessed a service.
Monks chanted holy hymns,
an old priest blessed those who had come to praise and pray,
some to be healed.
I could not describe what I will not forget.
It did not seem to matter how old the stone work was
for I sensed that it was ancient, timeless.
It stood outside history, the changes of the centuries.
Close to the root of Christianity it brought me.
Carvings in the embroidered stone tablets,
I admired for their intricate, skilful art.
Maybe one summer we can return to Lake Sevan
to make my dream vision come true.
I will see you, stood still by the edge of the lake,
your concentration on white cranes,
at rest from flight in shallow water, among reeds,
while others flap their wings, higher and higher,
on their way to mountains further south,
and to what may lie beyond.

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