A Brother Lost

Hidden among the microfilm reels

in the National Archives

lies the ghost

of a lost brother.

My father’s father, Elia,

set sail from Boulogne-Sur-Mer

aboard the SS Ryndam in 1921,

a small scar on his forehead

his only documented belonging.

Fleeing life in Austria,

Elia’s older brother Samuel

a bookbinder,

paid his passage.

Family lore

follows the brothers west to Denver.

But why Denver?

Why escape the Austrian Empire’s

cold reaches in Kolomyya

for the mountainous west?


the lost brother floats around the edges.

Elia and Samuel,

stricken with tuberculosis,

took treatments

at the Consumptive Relief Society Hospital

in Lakewood, Colorado.


the lost brother rises.

Elia and Samuel had

followed breadcrumbs

from an older brother Max,

who first blazed the trail,

before consumption took him

at the tender age of 25.

One insipid illness,

plaguing a generation,

changed the path of my family,

and marked the map of human destiny.

One thought on “A Brother Lost

  1. Hauntingly beautiful. I marvel at the relentless hardships of prior generations; your poem brings the reader into that tenuous life. Heartfelt to learn of these men who were struggling to claim a life for themselves. Remarkable remembrance …


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