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
Old Man at the Pool
What I knew about beauty,
the summer I turned ten,
I learned from books—
how Mammy squeezed Scarlett
into her corset for that famous
I was shaped like a milk carton.
I wore my mother’s old merry widow
under my bathing suit
to push me up and cinch me in.
In the pool I played water babies,
pretending I was a creature
with no earthly life.
I sat on the bottom of the pool
until the need for air
propelled me to the surface
where I would turn over and over,
somersault into exhaustion.
I don’t remember his face, just the gray
wires that grew down his belly
disappearing into his black trunks.
This old man, who held me
like a bowling ball,
his thumb in my crotch,
fingers splayed across
the bald arc of my pelvis,
this man who tossed me
into deep, deep water.
from Deep Red, Event Horizon, 1993
©2017 Donna Hilbert
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