“Purple Rain” by Luisa Muradyan Tannahill

Luisa Muradyan Tannahill


after Purple Rain

In the Talmud there is an angel
whispering to every blade of grass: grow, grow
In the other world, Prince whispers to every dove: cry, cry
and when he asked me about the status of my searching
I nodded and told him I had been purified
in the waters of lake Minnetonka.
Here’s the thing about wearing a blouse—
you put it on one sleeve at a time
become a man one silver hoop earring
at a time. I’ve never understood why
God gave us five fingers on each hand,
I would have made do with two.
Those were the fingers with which you
touched my outstretched hand
like Michelangelo’s creation of Adam
where I was made into a woman
the ceiling of the Sistine chapel
painted with your raspberry tongue.

Poets Respond
April 24, 2016

[download audio]


Luisa Muradyan Tannahill: “The writing of this poem really started back in 1987 when I was a young child in the Soviet Union. Since the market in the USSR was so censored it was almost impossible to get American movies for purchase. On a trip to Poland, my parents participated in an underground bootleg movie exchange (think of an illegal iron curtain Blockbuster) which consisted of American movies taped and poorly dubbed over. For the obscene price of 100 rubles, my father acquired the first American movie we would ever see, Purple Rain. My family was so transfixed with the movie that they thought it was set in the future. The music, the clothing, the magnificence, this movie became the narrative of America that my family would later pursue through immigration. Prince touched so many lives, including a Soviet family that would later turn to his music as a soundtrack for assimilation. When I found out that Prince had passed, I spent a lot of time trying to write an elegy. However, when I think of the image of my parents transfixed by a glowing Purple Rain poster in 1987, I realize that most of my life I’ve been writing a love poem to Prince and in 2016 it was time to give that poem an ending. ” (website)

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