on a train to Leipzig
I sat behind three
Nigerian women speaking
boldly and proudly
in their mother tongue
I found them quite
lovely, with the exception
of the ugly word
(lit. “migration background)
tattooed in white ink
all over their beautiful
black skin

all three women wore
gowns of orange and gold
and black headscarves
with white spots
all three women filled
the cabin with laughter
and the smell of old
fabric with a hint of
moth balls
they laughed
and laughed
and showed me their
bright teeth

a black baby boy in
a carriage started to
cry, so his mother
held him and fed him
with her breast

on the train back
I sat behind a group
of drunk German boys
they were pierced and tattooed
their heads were shaved

like the lovely Nigerian women,
they were also loud —
but angry loud
the cabin smelled of
alcohol that burned in their veins
and numbed their angry pain

a young German mother
tried to distract her
young daughter from
the ethanol and the flames
the mother watched her
reflection in the window
with half-open eyes
as her daughter said
something then cried
the mother stared at
her reflection
and sighed