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Anna Wrobel


They were not so much parents

as they were History

my siblings but remnants

and me the 'New American'

as vague as I was specific

For Chagall we are shtetl dwellers

sneaking pork fried rice on Christmas

not sure where to land and where I

landed was not where we came from

I cannot know what we lost

but I know it

sounds like a word

looks like a face

feels like a touch

smells like a body I couldn't find

We all of us floated—

planting roots here

planting them there

What holds us in time and space

is neither clock nor measuring tape

nothing so steady as these

I know why I did what I did

how much must be told

to prove it?

two cents plain

in relief of my anguish

he offered seltzer and

Judy Collins Wildflowers

he reminded me that I

am here because a young

German conscript didn't shoot

my Soviet soldier father

the youth with a

twinkle in his eye

living himself to

breathe another day

the very same as the

one he gave away

with a night of no bullets

to waken fighting men

so nearly dead in sleep

so I sip the seltzer

sing along some with Judy

and thank a German soldier for

sparing the seed that made me

he was right—

the seltzer did the trick


Anna Wrobel, born of a WWII resistance partisan and Soviet soldier, is an American historian, teacher, poet and Holocaust Studies educator whose poems and essays appear in journals including Cafe Review, Lilith, Jewish Currents and the Maine anthologies, Wait and Port City Poems. Anna's poetry collections are Marengo Street (2012) and The Arrangement of Things (2018). She's presented at the Holocaust Human Rights Center of UMaine-Augusta, Maine State Museum, Puffin Foundation, Jewish Community Alliance, Colby College conferences, Maine Jewish Museum, USM's OLLI Sage Lectures series. Shoah poems from her manuscript, Sparrow Feathers:Second Generation / First Person, are explored by students here and abroad. Anna presents history and poetry in high school, college and adult settings. She studied theater, lived as a farmer-artisan, was a construction site foreman, and for over a decade was president of her local teachers' union. Anna's daughter was born on a Galilee kibbutz and her son in the mountains of Maine.


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