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Saturday, June 30, 2018


by Donna Katzin

She only knows one number by heart—
ten numerals imprinted in her brain—
all that remains of family
for a six-year old girl. 

Ten numerals imprinted in her brain,
she cries for help to call her aunt.         
For a six-year old girl,       
an angry sea of grey men rises.

She cries for help to call her aunt
as strangers swirl around her. 
An angry sea of grey men rises, 
washes her from her mother.

As strangers swirl around her,
she is swept up in a wave that 
washes her from her mother
caged behind a chain-link fence.

She is swept up in a wave that
she cannot comprehend,
caged behind a chain link fence,
charged with no crime.

She cannot comprehend
this place without a name—
charged with no crime,
hums herself a lullaby.

In this place without a name
she only knows one number by heart,
hums herself a lullaby—
all that remains of family.

Donna Katzin is Executive Director of Shared Interest, social investment fund that promotes equitable development in Southern Africa.  She also coordinates Tipitapa Partners, which works with communities of organized women in Nicaragua. She is the author of With These Hands, a collection of her poems and photographs that focuses on South Africans on the front lines of their country’s struggle for economic and racial justice.