The city stayed quiet, its dragon had stopped breathing fire, and the streets were empty. Krakow covered me in snow and turned my fingers to icicles that my mittens couldn’t thaw. It penetrated my bones, an unwelcome army of ideals and frozen thoughts. History never left. It carried me, like a ship seeking land. The sail seeking beauty, I found it submerged beneath the sheets of sleet.

Like the quarter of my people, pushed beneath a raised city, graves buried on top of one another, the basilicas climbed each other for space and attention. Snapshot: a group of sorority sisters posing and pushing to get to the center of the photograph. Silly, but beautiful in

“The City of Krak” — the white stuff wouldn’t stop falling from the sky. So I sought solace in savory perogis and steaming mushroom soup that warmed its floury bread bowl just as it warmed my freezing fingers.

Mama told me she was proud that I now knew what her winters felt like.

Krakow, Poland

November 2012.