The Last Temptation of Gregorio [original]


Gregorio saw the basket and calmly
defected. The stalled line, meandering
and jagged as the jack
trees grafted to the river bank’s skirt, afforded
him a head start over the other POWs.

He was close enough to smell the suman pouches
cool and moist in the tree’s shade, considered
chancing a few mouthfuls before
a broken jaw.

He rescinded: Fidelito had bumped him
and sprinted to the bank.
The watchman shot the torn pouch out of his hand, shot
his hand out of existence.
Fidelito crashed into the water.

image: scene from the Bataan Death March (via The Atomic Heritage Foundation)


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