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CKŻ, ul. Meiselsa 17 – cafe on the rooftop


Kazimierz is a walking city. My feet hurt from the long days of endless walking in its streets.


A cab ride from the Eden Hotel to the Modern Art Museum adjacent to Schindler’s Museum costs 14 zloty. The cab I’m riding in drives beside a blue tram. There’s a hot-air balloon up in the perfect blue skies, like the one I show my son in his favorite picture book. What is this? A boat! And this? A train! And this? A hot-air balloon. The cab driver says a ride back from Schindler’s Museum to the Jewish Museum will cost 50 zloty.


The morning was cool but now the sun is out. I think of my grandfather's fair skin in this sun. I think of his blond-turned-white hair and his light-blue eyes which none of my children inherited. 


Four Hasidic Jews pass me by in the street. A red biker lets me cross the road and gently motions with his hand. People here are extremely kind. 


I contemplated buying three different vintage outfits. A bargain. The woman in the thrift store doesn’t know where the clothes came from. “Other countries, all around. I cannot tell you,” she says. I want to ask the sales lady if she thinks the dress might have been worn by someone who beat a Jew in the street, but instead call my sister and say: “What do you think of this white dress with pink roses and a puffy underskirt? It’s from the fifties. Do you think it might have been worn by a Nazi?” 


All this walking. I stop to rest and sit on the stone steps of a public-looking building.

I’m unable to keep holding on to my grandfather's posture.


It's my last day and I try to empty out every last zloty in my wallet: 12 zloty for an iced coffee; 25 zloty for a vegan sandwich; 20 zloty for a tote bag with Hebrew letters.


There is nothing for me in Krakow, though I can read all the ancient signs carved in the building stones.

There is nothing for me in Kazimierz, though I can read all the writings on the Remah cemetery gravestones. 

I can read all the Hebrew words adorning the front of Szeroka Street’s restaurants.

I know the meaning of the Jewish imagery placed on the gorgeously designed overpriced hipster sketchbooks in the bookstore in the Popper Synagogue. 

There is nothing for me here, though I can read it all, and you, local reader, cannot.

There is nothing for me in Poland, though it’s suffused with my family’s blood.




Curses inspired by Kazimierz


May your culture become a graffiti


May your culture become an empty street ornament.


May high-school students tour your empty prayer halls.


May high-school teachers whisper your gone traditions in the ears of their tired students.


May a museum shop sell magnets with photos of the camps where your people were exterminated.

May little cars carry tourists around the streets, their drivers pressing play on a recording near each historic site, with a young woman's voice narrating a

well-balanced tale, mispronouncing some of the words.


May the stone marking 35,000 of your people’s lost lives on Szeroka Street become a comfortable smoking spot.


May your prayers be reproduced to music played for tourists while they eat chopped liver.


May your prayers be used as hipster graphic decor.


May a festival be made to celebrate your local history and culture, which have been annihilated, in an attempt to repair what cannot be repaired.

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