If I Testimonies
by Barbara Krasner

If I found my cousin, a ringer for my mother, at Warsaw Airport
and we traveled together in her lime Peugeot
to Zaromb and she showed me where Grandpa lived
on Farbasker Street and she told me stories her father
passed down to her about his baby brother before he left in 1913
for Paris and America.

If I finally decided to visit Kozlov
and my father’s cousin met me at the Lviv train station
and we drove together in his silver Mercedes to the village
and she showed me where Grandma Eva and all the Zuckerkandels
lived and where Henoch’s butcher shop had been.

If I could visit my Polish and Ukrainian cousins in their homes
and marvel at the unsmiling wigged women and long-bearded men
in photographs on the walls and tables.

If I could fill the spaces on my own walls with Pesia and Henoch’s wedding portrait
and the Pryzant family sprawled across the gravestones of their ancestors.

If I hadn’t had to contact the International Tracing Service
and the Bureau of Missing Relatives. If I hadn’t had to submit
Pages of Testimony of my family’s victims to Yad Vashem.

PHOTO: The author visits her grandfather’s village in Poland (Zaréby Kośćielne, September 2008).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I began researching my family tree in 1990 and discovered over time great-aunts and uncles, second cousins, and others who perished in the Holocaust. I wonder what might have happened otherwise and what connections we might have made.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Krasner holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches creative writing in New Jersey. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod, Paterson Literary Review, Tiferet, Naugatuck River Review, Blue Lyra Review, and other journals. Visit her at barbarakrasner.com.