Two Poems by Donna Hilbert

Encounter at Gelson’s

On the first day we feel safe
touching another human being
outside of our tiny family pod,
I see a woman from my neighborhood
embrace a favorite box-boy. The kid
is on the spectrum, and super good
at his job. The hug is long. They pull back,
look at one another, hug again.

I kill time by the shopping cart carrel
to take in the scene, blow my nose
into an old mask, dab at my eyes
with my sleeve. I don’t want to be seen
bawling my head off at Gelson’s
fancy, prepared food counter.



They capture light, my neighbor says
of his many angled windows
fronting water on the bay side’s shore.

Who wouldn’t want to capture light
the way a child traps fireflies
on a summer night?

In the waning dark, I catch what I can
with my cell phone’s eager eye,
and greet again the great window opening,


Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Threnody, from Moon Tide Press. Earlier books include Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributing writer to the on-line journal Verse-Virtual. Work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Braided Way, Chiron Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Rattle, Zocalo Public Square, One Art, and numerous anthologies. Poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and on Lyric Life. She writes and leads private workshops in Southern California, where she makes her home, and during residencies at Write On Door County. Learn more at

2 thoughts on “Two Poems by Donna Hilbert

  1. I enjoyed Encounter at Gelson’s because the poem captures what we all went through being isolated and finally seeing people connect which was touching.

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