by Naira Kuzmich

Sometimes, I dream about my mother’s breasts.
In my dreams, my mother is naked
and nursing me
While she eats pomegranate seeds,
While she eats sunflower seeds.

Sometimes, I dream only of one breast.
In my dream, my mother only has one
and with it, she smothers me and my cries.
The pomegranate seeds like bloody cysts stain her chest.
The sunflower seeds like dried tears fall to her feet.


Naira Kuzmich is a senior at the University of Southern California.  
This is her first published piece.

On “Beginning”:
“Beginning” is my way of mourning the Armenian women I’ve known
who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  These are the mothers
of friends, mothers of neighbors, of cousins.  I’ve been afraid for years
that I would soon add my own mother to that list.  I’ve always believed
that Armenian mothers see breast cancer as a kind of betrayal of their
bodies—that their breasts, the ones that have given their children life,
will one day end their own.  With “Beginning,” I tried to look at breast
cancer in this context of an Armenian motherhood.  The pomegranate
is a formal symbol of our culture, whereas eating sunflower seeds is a
familiar pastime for our people.  Those two valued objects that have
transformed into such sad images by the end of the poem reflect the
treasonous nature of our breasts, and of a society that doesn’t
understand or value unwed and childless women.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 3, Number 2
(Fall 2008)

Copyright © 2008
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.