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?
Thinking this week about the women gunned down in the L’Ecole Polytechnique massacre in 1989. I lived on Saltspring Island, then, and had just been to Victoria with my partner to purchase Christmas gifts (I recall we’d bought Meg a gaudy hot pink and black and sequinned dress we hated but could barely wrench her out of); we heard the news as we walked in the door and stood stunned.
“The women killed in Montreal had robust lives and families and fiancés. They had mad skills and plans and dinner dates. Endings that are tragic and wasteful and rendered by males too pathetic to create their own stories do not nullify those aborted narratives.” –blogger Donna Decker
Tomorrow, Dec 6th, is a day for remembering. My mother-in-law, Wakako, died suddenly on this date. I think often about the state of the world for women, and I think about the state of Wakako’s world, and how her life would have been different had she been born later–how many opportunities she would have had. Her death devastated our family, and I wish we could go back, go back, go back, and undo her loss and all the loss that followed on its heels. Wakako, I miss you, and your granddaughters miss you.
I wrote a poem about the women killed in the Killeen, TX, Luby’s Cafeteria shooting (Wiki), which also targeted women.
luby’s cafeteria, killeen, tx
by Jane Eaton Hamilton
he hated women it was simple an explanation it was evidence he was a loner you know the sort of guy we all know the sort of guy that’s why we don’t walk the night streets
nobody stopped to say oh maybe I’ll be gunned down if I eat there thanks anyhow I’ll take a bagged lunch to work thanks again cafeterias mid-day give me the willies
fluke you say nuts crazy wacko women are basically safe he just lost it he wanted to make a statement (on the bodies of women) I am covered in graffiti footprints of fear and blood and what it’s like to live hunted
it’s true we’ve gone places into boardrooms into factories into nurseries with your children into engineering departments into cafeterias but
one woman with red hair was raising a blueberry muffin to her lips and another was sipping coffee with extra sugar she didn’t like milk