Dearest Margaret,

I so envy you-

Downtown must be ablaze with Christmas decorations and everyone
would have their invitation to Amanda's party by now- I shall miss it all!
The laughter, the clinking of glasses, the Colonel's nephew and his glorious lips-

I shall miss your entrance, luminous in the latest from Paris;
I would be there with you, we a pair of doves- no, not doves, moonlight
spilling onto everything- onto the flowers, the baskets of gifts,
the lapels of men- no one can deny the moonlight.

Every detail of the last soiree we attended together is still fresh
Oh if the walls could talk! Collapsing and crumbling into a hail of champagne,
rivers of it running through and around us. I see the rainbow lights

from the grand hall chandelier reflecting like gems in your curls. There is no
such light here. It's pale blue and sticky heat, palm trees and dirt roads,
a changeless old that builds up from the ground and waits.

It buzzes and swells in the wrong-skinned people here,
I see it's disapproval in their eyes. I want to be free of it, run from this place,
fly over the trial and mother and Tommy- way beyond this eternal summer

harnessing me here. Yes. I do know that summers eventually eclipse
turn to autumn with it's brilliant reds and orange fires.
Fires that can burn it to the ground, burn it clean.

Lord knows it's not autumn Margaret,
and even with the sun blaring
I can't seem to forget
this winter has just begun.


My poor daughter.
It outrages me to no end
how the court system could free
savage natives with their filthy mixed breed origins
with no conscience and no godly respect for the white race.

A mistrial.
My heart can’t believe this.
A mistrial purely based on the cunning ways of the defense
with no thought of vindication for my Thalia.

This trial should have been
the end to all whispering
dirty talk
about my daughter, my bloodline.

Judge Steadman was of no use to me.
Steadman didn’t jail the natives
at least until another trial
against them could be arranged.

Stirling was of no use to me either.
Stirling asked the acting governor, Brown,
to toss the savages in jail,
but Brown declined.

How could Steadman and Brown—
fellow white brethren
turn their backs
and not honor their daughters?

Their military brothers have taken action
physically honoring their white sisters
by forcing their fists onto brown and yellow skin.

True Americans would have taken action.
Americans would have not hesitated
to grab the nearest rope
and place it around the necks
of lesser beasts
to protect
their pedigree.

Tommie is at sea,
but “Deacon“ Jones is here.
“Deacon“ is dutiful and forthright.
Earlier, he took the Ida boy
and tried to force him to confess.

Although Tommie left a gun for Thalia,
I doubt that it’s enough.
“Deacon,“ Helene, and I
bought guns as well.

I, Grace Fortescue, will never
let savages triumph.

How long the trial felt. Seemed like years.
Watching the trial was like
watching the leaves of the Kamani
trees do their slow twist in the wind,
the sun illuminating
the undersides in a gathering of hope.
To fill the long hours,
I crocheted mechanically,
and winced at the words
each time they mentioned
rape, suspects, broken jaw,
an open but clean vagina.

I remember when my son once
brought me a plant on Arbor day.
The leaves were young, deepening
in green and I thought him good and kind,
my mother-soul trying to find evidence
of the meanness they accuse him of.

My Joe, did you really hit Mrs. Peeples?
My Joe, did you really rape Thalia Massie?
My Joe, in your goodness, did you really bring me a plant
that spread its branches
in translucent green sunbeams?

Were you capable of all this?

The green of a plant is a hopeful color.
What makes a rapist? Not the vegetation
around the boys who had purported
to have done the deed, the rustle
of the leaves and branches around them,
the breaking of twigs when
a woman is thrown from the car.
Yet, there is no evidence of any of this dirt
on her clothes or shoes.

I drop my crochet needles that rattle
through the November that is here,
in the sticky humid winds of our winter.
Inside the room, it feels
like hurricane weather
and the jury is finally sequestered.

I read the Bible and the newspapers.
The white people
in the gallery don't believe
I had been educated in the King's English
and look down on me.
I can feel their eyes
and their hand-me-down hours
like everything I own.
Second-hand, not green
and new. What's the verdict?

Hung, they finally say:
Impossible to be in two places
at the same time, wrong time
lines, inconclusive evidence . . .

And it brings something else
to the table, an emergent green feeling,
a gratitude to a handful of green, brave good men,
a greening of the "savages"
the Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Filipinos,
and us, the natives.
We all come together.

Jeez, their voices hurt my ears
my head is spinning
this floor is hard . . . wet
I’m cold
What they saying?

“. . . come together. . . in this together . . . “

“. . . do justice . . .“

“ . . . jury wrong . . .“

“Confess, confess.“

Auwe. . . what she talking
that Fortescue lady
so loud
they push me in the car
drag me here
I can’t move

“. . . we’re in this together. . .“

“. . . newspapers said . . .“

“. . . stop this chaos . . .“

“. . . lust-mad youths . . .
foul, slimy creatures . . .
attacking the innocent . . .“

“. . . forty rapes last year . . .“

“. . . martial law . . .“

What they talking?
Why they shoot me?

“Stay awake, Joey, stay awake?
Joseph! don’t go to sleep.“

I hear you, Mommy,
I hear you
It’s so hard

I don’t want to die . . .

This website uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to its use of cookies.