Nine letters Dad had written
in 1944, addressed to his grandparents,
I discovered them tucked away,
in an envelope, boxed
with old family photographs.
A 23-year-old soldier in basic training.
Sentences, phrases, thoughts,
perhaps describing his impressions of
an army base in Mississippi,
when all he ever knew
was city life in Philadelphia.

Feeling grateful
to come across an unexpected gift,
Dad’s words, before he became Dad,
before he met my mother.
He was a grandson in 1944,
a great-grandfather in 2016,
when he passed away.
Generations bridge and blend,
shuffled like a deck of cards,
ever-evolving roles in a family.

What will these pages reveal?
What was on his mind and heart
during that uncertain time of war?
I’m anticipating, wondering,
but first,
they must be translated,
after all,
the precious letters are in Yiddish,
the language of his grandparents.