Believe me when I tell you
I did not know her name
but remember the colour of her dress:
red, like my own school uniform.
I did not know death could come to a girl
walking home, stick in hand,
tracing circles in the dirt,
singing as she went along.
I did not know death
would find someone
for wearing the wrong colour smock
in the wrong part of town.
My parents spoke in hushed tones,
but I heard the story of her body
dragged from street to gully,
left sullied in semen and blood.
I heard the song she sang,
the one I wish I could sing now.
Truth is, I was that girl.
Truth is, I was never there.
from This Strange Land (Farmington, ME: Alice James Books, 2011).