It was roughly three years ago when I started to write poetry again. I was a news junkie and would watch MSNBC, CNN, and other news outlets all day long. Even at work, I would have the news on. This particular day, there was a story about a teenager named Cherice Moralez.
A Montana judge was under fire for sentencing a 54-year-old former teacher to just 30 days in jail for raping the then 14-year-old Cherice who later died by suicide. District Judge G. Todd Baugh, in sentencing Stacey Rambold (the man who admitted to repeatedly raping Cherice in his home, car and office), said Cherice Moralez was "as much in control of the situation" as her teacher, referring to Cherice as a troubled youth "older than her chronological age".
Watching the news that day was very painful. I was angry. I was hurt. I was disappointed. I kept seeing her face and hearing her voice. And at some point, our voices joined and I saw exactly what I was to do. Start writing again. When I wrote the poem "Sleep Without Sleeping", it was as much for her as it was for me. And it is as much for me as it is for every other person who has been sexually assaulted. Although we never met, I still hold near my heart the memory of Cherice.
I try to write about other things. But I hear the voices of the violated cry out. And I am forced to write what I see and hear. And as I watch/listen to/read the news today, I am feeling much like I did on August 29, 2013 (when I wrote Sleep Without Sleeping). Although it is not the same rape case, I still hear Cherice speaking. I still hear her crying out, "Thirty days".
I do not know the name of the woman that Brock Turner raped. I understand her desire to remain anonymous. But I hear her voice. Six Months. I hear her voice. Twenty Minutes.
I hear their voices. Thirty days. Six Months. Twenty Minutes.
I hear their voices...And my soul aches.