Shortly before he was killed, my husband and I moved to a rattle-trap beach house on the peninsula in Long Beach. Going to sleep to the sound of the surf and waking to dolphins and pelicans sustained me through the almost unbearable grief. Making the place habitable gave me a task; writing gave me purpose. I am still here, loving the place, taking nothing for granted. www.donnahilbert.com
Editor's Note: In her submission letter to me Donna wrote: Here is my offering for July. I have been so disturbed by the light sentence rendered in the rape case involving the Stanford swimmer and his father’s letter protesting even that, I am sharing this poem in which I write about my first experience with the way justice might be delivered.
The next-door neighbor,
Gino, played the accordion
in his underwear.
His wife, Marcelle, washed
her windows all the time,
Mother said, “like putting a clean
dress over dirty underwear.”
I don’t know where Marcelle was,
but her children were asleep,
that night when Gino pulled me onto his lap,
slipped his hand under my baby doll
pajamas, rubbed my chest and belly,
asked me if I loved my best friend,
and did I kiss her on the mouth?
He rubbed and kissed and whispered
until I fell asleep.
It was Gino’s questions
that I thought were strange,
so when I got home, I told what happened.
the policeman’s questions were strange too,
why would Gino take out his penis
in the living room?
To court, I wore a pink angora sweater
and a plaid pleated skirt,
my hair in a pony tail pulled so tight
my eyes hurt when I told what happened.
when the judge threw the case out of court,
he said, “It’ll be a sad day for America
when a man can’t show a little affection
for his neighbor’s child.”
-from Deep Red, Event Horizon, 1993
©2016 Donna Hilbert
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