Jared Carter’s most recent book of poems, The Land Itself, is from Monongahela Books in Morgantown, West Virginia. He lives in Indiana.
Kurt Gerstein, an ethically conflicted but subsequently resistant Waffen-SS officer, describes a moment at Bełżec extermination camp, in August of 1942, when a large group of naked men, women, and children are being herded into a gas chamber. A woman “of about forty years of age, with flaming eyes, calls down vengeance on the head of the murderers for the blood which is shed here. She gets five or six slashes with the riding crop across her face from Hauptmann Wirth, then she disappears into the chamber.”
Then she disappears into the chamber,
Lost beneath its waves – forsaken stranger,
Calls down vengeance, heedless of the danger.
Scornful of the measures to restrain her,
Unafraid at last, with proud demeanor,
Gerstein sabotages gas containers,
Seeks to warn; denounced as a complainer,
Waves erase whatever might explain her.