Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 5
Spring 2012

[Poem + Commentary]

Donna Hilbert

Dear John Letter to My Uterus

Dear Uterus, 
We’ve not been formally introduced. 
Oh, well. 
Who wants to meet a lover at a funeral? 
Old cozy blanket, fuzzy mitten, coffee pot 
simmering behind my stomach wall, 
out of sight, 
like my cousins in Oklahoma, 
like my pink angora sweater 
misshapen in a trunk. 
I’ve been happy knowing you’re there. 
Thank you for cooking up my children. 
I forgive you for letting one slip by. 
But lately you’ve become a nuisance— 
a dog that won’t quit licking, 
a too precocious child, 
a lingering house guest. 
Like a sailor on leave, 
you’re a creature of excess. 
I won’t spell it out. 
You know what you’ve been doing. 
There. I feel better. This clears the air. 
Must close, so long now, job well done. 
All things considered, it’s been fun.

—From Traveler in Paradise: New and Selected Poems, Pearl Editions


On “Dear John Letter to my Uterus”:
Commentary by Donna Hilbert

Most of my poems are attempts at coming to terms with loss, whether or not I know that at the writing. But with “Dear John Letter to my Uterus,” I knew. I was in my thirties, still looking for life as a poet, feeling like a driverless car careening on a multi-level interchange, not knowing where to get on, not knowing where to get off, barely negotiating the curves as a wife, mother, and writer—it was then that something gave way in my body. I’d given birth to two sons by the time I was twenty and a third by twenty-five. My early thirties were consumed with a restless ache to express myself. I didn’t know how to reconcile the parts of my life that were at times as disorganized as the kids’ old toy chest had been—full of headless action figures and puzzle pieces with chewed-up corners. This crisis in my body forced me to look into all the hidden places and to listen to mortality’s whisper and know that it was calling my name. For the first time, I realized in a visceral sense that I would not always be young and strong. To quote the great Leonard Cohen, “there is a crack, a crack in everything/that’s how the light gets in.” My body cracked, the light poured in, and along with my glimpse of mortality, there came a glimpse of gratitude and a path toward the future as well.


End Bug Issue 5

Donna Hilbert’s

Photo of Donna Hilbert, self-portrait

Latest poetry collection is The Green Season, World Parade Books. Earlier books include Traveler in Paradise: New and Selected Poems; Transforming Matter; Deep Red; and Women Who Make Money and the Men Who Love Them (short stories).

She appears in, and her poetry is the text of, the documentary “Grief Becomes Me: A Love Story.”

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury