Ancestry Prose Poem


I am a Russian Jew. I uncovered the truth and now the truth knows not what to do with me. A human wrestling with identity. For two generations my family never knew. I am a Russian Jew. At least an eighth of me, and I’m only alive due to secrecy. Relatively prosperous in Philadelphia a century after Wolf Cherashefsky and Minnie Novakolsky escaped pogroms in an unforgiving Empire. Two betrothed teenagers fleeing across the Atlantic Ocean on one last leg of a millennia of diaspora. From the Ukraine to Arkhangelsk to Liverpool to New York to Philadelphia to flee home to find a home to escape violence to encounter peace. I am a Russian Jew. According to the Federal Census a descendant of cabinet makers who spoke Yiddish in the household. Great grandson of refugees who swore an oath disavowing the Czar and pledging allegiance to America. Another Empire in all but name. And yet Wolf and Minnie survived here. That is why I’m alive. I am a Russian Jew.

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