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Shelley Puhak
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The Führer’s Girls


Mitzi, 1927, Rope

In our dress shop across from the Deutsche Haus
we didn’t sell it, only cord, piping, braid—

the gilt cord I used to trim his Christmas gift,
cushions with swastikas embroidered in silk,

the yellow piping on his tweed armchair
where he refused, the second time, to marry me,

the gold braid on his cuffs my first Party meeting,
where he fed me lemon cake with his fingers.

My woodland sprite, he named me once,
with necklaces, but no rings.

Around my neck, this last—running knot, scaffold knot,
strung loose enough he has time to find me

as he found me first,
among the Berchtesgaden firs.

 

Geli, 1931, Revolver

He’s tiresome, he twitches, he
breaks things—my bisque piano baby
figurines, for example.

Carpet Biter, Emil calls him, when he falls
frothing on the floor—
no voice lessons in Vienna,
no cinema with my school chums,
no calling him Uncle Alf when we’re undressed.

Scrubbing his back, I count
his moles (seven); squatting over him, I count
the two years, the days left
(six-hundred and ninety-four) until he says
Emil and I can marry, once he’s sure I’ve matured.

While he takes Eva, that bitch,
riding in the Mercedes, I stay home.
Who will interrupt with brown-shirts
posted at the door?

Uncle Alf’s Walther eight-caliber
against my chest,
Emil, Emil, I whisper,
until my nipples clot up, hard.

 

Eva, 1935, Sleeping Pills

Frau Schaub came as ambassador,
with flowers and telegrams,
so my whole office is a flower shop,
smells like a cemetery chapel,

same as my suite at Berghof,
where I wait out the dinner parties,
away from the diplomats.

Wolf keeps his Lugers locked up, after
last time, but keeps me stocked up—
Veronal, Luminal, Phanodorm.

Thirty-five this time, and I’ll lay
my Rolleiflex next to me
so I might emerge from the developer bath
fixed as they will find me—
barefaced blond,
chrysanthemum blossoms,
black sheets.

 

Renate, 1937, Out the Window

Our first date, he started with the details,
Gestapo techniques. After this warm-up,
he undressed, expected, yes,
but then begged me to kick him, yes,
better than he deserved, yes,
he was not worthy, yes, kissed
the palms of my feet.

The morphine muddles, I know,
but the sound my skirt makes, full of air,
same as the whip’s bite,
the pavement quickening the same gray
as the wool uniforms
of the four S.S. rushing up—
why wait? to wake to light
refracting off anything but insignia.

 

Eva, 1945, Cyanide

Married in my black silk,
champagne in the sitting room,
and after, a glass ampule,
jerky wedding dance,
bitter almond air.

.

© 2010 Beloit Poetry Journal       Design by Jim Parmenter