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Syndic Literary Journal

The Found Letter

Written & Narrated By Long Island Poet/Publisher Stanley Barkan



It was folded and sealed, never opened.

I gingerly separated the glued flap,

and found, to my astonishment,

a letter from my mother to my daughter.


It was mixed in with books and postcards

and flyers and poetry journals—

all hit by the April (during Passover) flood,

our third in the last ten years.


A young man was helping me find

what was salvageable and what was not,

in a fine-sorting exercise that was really

meant for later, after all the boxes would

be taken out of the basement and the rest of

the house and stored in the ship’s container

that had been parked in our driveway

for the last two months.


But, since there was a lot of artwork

and craft items, as well as art magazines,

which my wife had to be asked about,

I had to do the careful sifting through

just a few of these last basement boxes.


Then, after finding some rare posters,

lost photographs (one of my wife with

our two children), and some books in

readable condition, I found this paper

with the word “Mia” inscribed on it.


It was written in Yiddish (or rather,

English transliteration), and, as best as

I could translate, it said: 


*My dear Mia,


I received your letter

and I liked it very much.

For me, you are

the most beautiful girl

in the whole wide world.


I love you very much

and I hope that you

will be a good little girl.


For me you are beautiful,

for me you have such grace

[quote from the song:

ba mir bistu sheyn,

ba mir hostu kheyn]

and all that is good.


Please write me another letter,

I like it very much when you do.


 I kiss you and press you to my heart.


Be well, 

Your grandmother, 


P.S.  Loads of kisses and regards

from your grandfather,                          



When I read it to Mia

what I understood,

translated into English,

she and I both could not

keep back the tears.


This was a letter from my mother,

from her bubbe, her grandma,

from the grave, and doubly so

from her zeyde, in the P.S.,

since he died before Mia was born.


Mia asked: “Why did she

send this to me at this time?! 

It had to be at this time.”


I, too, thought it was bashert.


—Stanley H. Barkan


*Based on translation by Dovid Katz.




Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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