She wanted to whisper to the naked girl 
chained two bodies over,
but they had no words in common.
What do I know? Middle-class white
and free to make up stories.
I have a desk and paper and a pencil.
When she twisted in place, raw skin
tore on urine-soaked planks.
Links cut into her wrists and ankles.

I have lots of middle-class white guilt.
I can write the huge word “I”
over and over. And what use is that?
It wasn’t her tight braids she missed;
it was Grandmother’s hands
braiding them. Back in their village.