Originally published in The Listening Eye,
Summer 1999


                         My grandfather's speech is a series of  stark black squares
                         that march across white paper.  His letter
                         addresses my father.  1935.
                         Beloved son:  Please send twenty dollars
                         to Leizack, my cousin in Poland.

                         Leizack in Poland, never since mentioned.
                         Syllables spill out only on paper, speech of my grandfather
                         gentle man, who rarely raised his voice to me.
                         How do I find Leizack?  Who was he?  What was his surname?
                         My grandfather came from Brody.  What shtetl was Leizack from?

                         I am looking for Leizack.  No grandfather now,
                         no father.  I am old, far and away older
                         than Leizack could have been then.
                         Did Leizack have sons?  Daughters?
                         Where are the Polish children?
                         I am looking for Leizack, the unmentionable.

                         Names of cities and towns in Poland
                         blur on a screen.  Warszawa.  The ghetto.
                         Lodz.  Lublin.  Czestochowa whose black Madonna
                         couldn't be burned.  Night in Poland.  Carpathian mountains
                         blot out sight.  Leizack is smoke.  My eyes sting.

                         I am trying to unearth Leizack.
                         I want to give him twenty dollars.
                         I need to give him his due.

                         It is late in Poland.  Night rocks me
                         back to my grandfather's house,
                         where Grandmother smiles,
                         holds up her lacquered Chinese box,
                         shows us the secret drawer in back
                         that only she can spring.
                         Leizack is in this box no one can find now,
                         inside the secret drawer
                         nobody knows how to open.
                         Help me, I scream.
                         I have prayed and cursed equally,
                         looking.  What should I do?

                         My gentle grandfather raises his voice:
                        Tell them about Leizack.
                         He was my cousin,
                         still in Poland.
                         Say it was late there.

Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld


Copyright © M S Rosenfeld 1999