Olympic Valor


Barred from Austrian Christian athletic

clubs, the country’s swim champion

recalled — sixty-five years later —


that day. The team approached the entrance,

heard thunder from the cheering throng inside

the Vienna arena. She, in the lead — David’s proud

star fixed to her shirt. When the girl stepped into view


the stadium





As if plunged into a shark-infested shoal, thirty

thousand piercing glares surrounded her. 

And so, paladin-like, refused to swim

for Austria in Hitler’s Berlin games.

For this deed, she was stripped


of her medals while — beneath

those stunning Alpine peaks —

the populace waltzed on.



― appeared in Poetica Magazine, 2008