After Hearing How The Judge Didn’t Want to Ruin The Rapist’s Life
Here you are, stopped short, waiting in line for the light to turn green.
You kill the radio—wonder what’s wrong with the guy
in your rear view mirror, the one
who screeched to a halt, stopping a fraction of an inch from my bumper.
Now you see through the white smoke spewing from the exhaust
a girl standing on the street corner.
She holds a wilted cardboard sign, the letters bleeding
into each other from the winter rain which falls from the sky
like the hammer of an angry god. So
rolling down the window, you wave 2 bucks at the kid.
You do this because you can’t stand seeing
how her long brown hair is pulled, tight and hard,
from back from her face by a blue rubber band;
how her wet hair falls, almost deliberately, into a fine point
all the way down her back, like an exclamation mark
at the end of a National Enquirer story
everyone reads in the supermarket while waiting to checkout.
You tell yourself the girl’s going to be okay—
someone will come and rescue her. Or maybe
she’ll walk down these side streets,
and find that one house among so many houses
where there will be, no doubt,
a small lamp with a fluted silk shade sitting on a small table
in front of a picture window,
the light shining through the glass onto the stone path
which will welcome her home.
But that wind! You hate the wind—
how it lifts her hair like the hand of someone who,
not long ago, grabbed the back of your neck, hushing
It’s getting darker now and it’s raining hard and
the light just changed; now
the SUV in back of you is leaning on the horn and
yeah, you’re late for work again
and you’re almost out of gas and
you are very sure now
the cops will be coming by real soon.
Lois Roma-Deeley's poetry collection, The Short List of Certainties, won the Jacopone da Todi Book Prize (Franciscan University Press, 2017). She is the author of three previous collections of poetry: Rules of Hunger, northSight and High Notes—a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. Roma-Deeley’s poems are featured in numerous literary journals and anthologies, nationally and internationally, such as Spillway, North Dakota Quarterly, Villanelles (Pocket Poet Series), Rabbit and many more. Currently she serves as Associate Editor of Presence. www.loisroma-deeley.com/