Where They Were Born

Bratslav. It seemed strange and almost disappointing that this place that I knew to be the village where the Kipnis line began–at least as far back as I could trace it– should be marked with an ordinary, modern road sign. Much as I tried to invest the moment with solemnity, the fact remained that minus the knowledge acquired in my grandfather’s “first papers” (the petition that precedes naturalization), getting to the village–this village–would have meant nothing to me. But once I arrived, everything acquired enormous, even literary significance, including the  goat we passed on the road.

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