Shirtwaist Factory Fire (100 Years Ago Today)

Since the ninth floor doors were locked,
did the women know the building

was on fire before they felt the heat
radiating through the floorboards?

In no time the smoke drove them all
to the windows, which opened easily.

More than a hundred women jumped
(a few preferred to endure the flames).

Imagine what they must have thought,
what mockery of hope quickly

turned bottomless terror; except, perhaps,
for those who focused, who fixed their

minds on the last chance, tensing each
muscle for all it was worth, determined.