Remembering the 1988 Armenian Earthquake


Armenia Earthquake Destruction


December 7, 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the Spitak earthquake of 1988. This natural disaster in Armenia killed as many as 50,000 people and injured as many as 130,000 in the northern regions of Lori and Shirak. I wrote this poem in the weeks after the tragedy. 


The Survivor


All this pain is for which of our sins?
~ Catholicos Vazken I, December 1988


In this dream you walk past
the school’s sheared facade;
from their desks the children
call and wave. A teacher
points at a map of Armenia.
The ceilings drop like eyelids.

You wake to another dream
of soot-stained faced around
a fire fueled by broken chairs.
You wish the earth would
swallow the rows of coffins
in the playing field. The living

search for what they want
not to find; their eyes catch
like hooks at your skin.
You should have been the
hand of God reaching into
the school–the children

could have climbed onto
your palm that would hover
over the town until the earth
was still. But instead they
line up to write their names
in the book at heaven’s door.



Nancy Kricorian

Originally published in PARNASSUS: Poetry in Review (1992)