November two years ago: I stopped watching the news. I stopped reading the papers. A little while later, I stopped watching TV altogether. This made me feel better, though sometimes ill-informed. But some headlines are unavoidable, when you check your e-mail, when you walk by a newsstand, when you open your eyes. The headlines lately have been terrible, and the worst ones—-all of them—-have to do with sexual violence and abuse or the intent to commit sexual violence.
Near where I used to live in Pennsylvania, it’s incredibly beautiful this time of year. The barns are all red and the ground is brown and green. It smells sweet and smoky and slightly sour-rotten from all the apples dropping. There are hills. There is corn and woods. The world I thought when I lived there was calm.
I grew up in a similar community. There are buggy crossing street signs. Every few years we went to see a barn raising. Every season, we bought maple sugar candy or syrup or bread or eggs or chickens. My aunt and uncle gave rides in their truck to church or to Wal-Mart to all who would come to the door and ask.
When I was sixteen, my family lived in a hotel. I got home at noon because I took classes at the local college, and on the days I didn’t have class, I sat at the window and watched the big Amish restaurant next door go up. The men who built it waved at me through the window, and on their lunch break, rolled up their sleeves and played hacky-sack on the grass.
I have written about uncomfortable subjects in my poems and novel because writing is a way of talking. There’s another way too. Please, if you need help, it's here.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network