Dog show fades surreal
into camps and prisoner
commander and commanded
and I think
if it had been me
I would not
have survived.

I am soft, fat,
weak knees, ankles
can’t even climb a bunk.
If it had been me
what would I
have done
to survive?

Nibbles, sit!
Queenie, come!
Shadow, heel!
145839 step out…
is it relief or death
which command
let me survive.

It is the arm bands
that throw me–
no yellow star, only
competitors numbers
only dogs, not lives
in a satanic lottery
to survive.

They line up
beside dividing bars.
Masters and dogs walk
past judges
final selection
is it ribbons
or survival?

Smoke, fire, Shoah.
Return to canine odors,
children and 4-H shows
and I beg You Lord–
may they never know
what it means,
to survive.

16 August 2008

Notes: This poem was written during a 4-H dog show. I had been reading a book about the holocaust, and suddenly, at this dog show, two very different worlds merged. I hope and pray that in reality, they never will. May we treasure and guard the freedom God has given us.