Now I’m terrified, but when I hurled my shoe
at that pig-guard, Schillinger—infamous
for strangling prisoners—then grabbed his Luger
and fired into his fat belly, I could’ve flapped my arms
and flown back to Brazil, escaped this giant fly-paper trap,
when all I’d wanted in coming here was to further
my dancing career, but tricked onto a death-camp train.
My shot was the signal the other women stripping
to be executed were hoping for; in frenzies, we attacked
the guards like Lorelei waylaying sailors onto Rhine rocks.
One woman ripped off a guard’s nose, another scalped
a monster, held the bloody patch aloft, like an Apache.
We battered the fiends, bashed them on the ground.
Escape wasn’t the point; just vengeance: our lives
crushed like cockroaches; we fought hoping only
we’d be shot fast, not the choking horror of the gas.
No, I’m lying, we hoped to break out, rally the camp,
escape, and leave our killers’ bodies for the crows.
But when Commandant Hoess stormed in
with more machinegun-commandoes, we knew
our hopes had died. One by slow one,
he points us to walk outside; we hear a shot,
we shudder and wipe away smudged tears.
“You,” his smile a bayonet,
when he’d been informed I’d begun the revolt,
“will go last; it will take a long time
before I’ll let you wallow in the bliss of oblivion.”