Photograph in Krakow

She walks straight ahead.
A scarf covers her hair.
The chin angular, eyes large.
Her hands push a carriage.
You cannot see the baby,
but a child is resting.
Others walk before and behind her.
The clothes are brown or black.
She stands out.

She could be walking
to the bookstore or fruit market.
Who is she trying to fool?
Is the pace to confuse the child,
let her sleep a few more hours with
dreams of angels and sugar candy?
Or is she saying names of the living
to trick God into saving her?
This has sometimes worked for others.

Most look down.
She looks straight ahead.
Perhaps she sees someone she knows.
Someone must be aliead of her
but it does not appear so or maybe
a voice guides her to a different room.
She prays with her eyes open.

There will be no covered mirrors.
Water will not be spilled in every room
where death has dipped his dagger.
No one will walk a different path home
from the Vistula to keep death from returning.
There is only one path for now.

She will leave behind one ring and
a pair of brown shoes. Nothing else.
No one will close her eyes or
walk with her when she dies.
I close her eyes now but do not know
her name. It is never too late to honor
the dead or pray for the living.

Elaine Zimmerman writes poetry, prose and social policy. This poem received Honorable Mention and a Certificate of Merit in Israel from the Miriam Lindberg Poetry Peace Prize. A psychotherapist, she is Executive Director of the Connecticut Commission on Children. Her article “Brave Enough to Be Kind” has become the state policy text to develop anti-bully law for Connecticut.