From the time I was seven,
the top drawer was the drawer
of my fascination.
Each year I'd return
to study the treasures there:
old rings and bracelets,
a pocket watch, a silver box
with jewels set in the top,
hairpins and lace,
pearls and stays, sachets
of sweetly smelling things ...
and above, wedged into the edges
of the bureau mirror, the photos:
her sisters and cousins, great aunts
and uncles, and my grandmother's parents
gathered at her grandfather's grave
before they left Poland for America.
I'd stare at them for hours, these images,
my ancestors, people I had never met
and could barely imagine -
until there, in the center,
I noticed one year,
rising up out of the mottled, silver mirror,
my own face reflecting back at me
from a past that aimed both to claim
and set me free.