On Considering Savagery
The wonderful poet Méira Cook is interviewing me for Brick Books about a long-ago poem I wrote from the imagined perspective of Ted Bundy’s mother during his execution. I had to keyboard in this long poem tonight because I no longer had it on a computer. What a surreal experience to be inside the imagined voice of an onlooker to violence while also being inside my young poet’s voice. I remembered that mother-blaming was even worse then than it is now. I remembered how enraged I became that Ted Bundy had caused so many women and their families pain and incalculable losses (my word, I had daughters, I could almost–), and how confusing was the struggle in my conscience when he was executed, since I remain against capital punishment.
To add to this, of course it just the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre at École Polytechnique this past weekend (along with the anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death, from whence many losses issued). Here in Vancouver, there was a Saturday vigil in response to Montreal, then a Sunday vigil for Canada’s missing and indigenous women.
I have been worrying a lot about police violence, too, as everyone has. Recently I watched Brian Lindstrom’s film Alien Boy about the Portland murder of James Chasse, and again footage of the Robert Dziekanski police murder at YVR. Did these murders presage the militarization of police in N America and the new wave of shootings of Black men across the US? A Vietnamese man in Vancouver, Du Na Phuong, waving a piece of lumber in a crosswalk, was also shot and killed by police a few blocks from here a couple weeks ago. Story here.
And even as I watch footage of these men dying from police brutality, and try to come to terms, I know that women also die in police custody, and that reporters don’t note it the way they do male deaths.
Let’s see it. Let’s name it. Let’s not look away. Can we not look away?
Can I not avert my eyes one more time?
Heart-breaking and utterly convincing. This woman entirely unknown to me before this becomes achingly real, three-dimensional.