Friday, October 14, 2016

The Rape of Serenity

I am standing at the window watching Serenity leave. Her head is bowed and uncovered. Rivulets of rainwater run down her face like mini waterfalls and drip from the tip of her nose. Strands of dark hair plaster her cheeks and I note her lips are trembling from the wet and cold.

She's obviously not dressed for the weather, but she was raped last night and warmth wasn't the prime concern when her grandmother brought her in.


The rape occurred on the railroad tracks at 3 a.m., the devil's hour when shadows come alive and gremlins cast off their cumbersome angelic disguises so as not to hinder their depraved objectives. Serenity is only 16, but hell has visited her before and this isn't the first time in her life that she's been attacked or molested. 

She therefore knows the deal when it comes to the powers that be, the powers that are ostensibly there to protect and serve, and did not want to come in as a result. But her grandmother insisted. 

I can understand Serenity's resistance. 

A rape victim submitting to a rape kit is like a physical assault victim submitting to a baseball bat to the other, non-battered side of her head in order to establish plausibility. Even then – even when they've broken bones and the bloody glove does fit everyone is suspicious of the veracity of a good rape "story" so why bother?

No one wants a guilty man found criminally responsible for something other men secretly want to do as well (if the viral popularity of violent internet porn tells us anything, it's that). But no matter – the same sadistic animal that rapes, beats, kills and tortures also happens to be the same one who controls the levers of power, be it law maker, judge, police officer, physician, politician, academician, propagandist, publisher, priest, sugar daddy, the boys' club of Silicon Valley, businessmen in general or the uber rich. How handy.

It's handy for the predatory male, anyway. 

Not so "handy" for aboriginal girls raped on railroad tracks. Perhaps this is what Serenity thinks on some subconscious level as Dr. Basson confidently strides into the examining room. He is a healthy white male, 45, who immigrated from South Africa and now lives with his perfectly symmetrical, much younger, breast-implanted wife on the "right side" of the tracks – the same tracks where Serenity was raped. Rape might be opportunistic, but it has no boundaries.

Dr. Basson, Willem to those "privileged" enough to call him a friend, pulls back the grey privacy curtains without regard for Serenity's privacy. Cathy, who is sitting in the waiting room, catches a glimpse of the sopping wet girl, recognizes her and immediately starts texting. Confidentiality? No. This is a game with easy to break rules if you have the upper hand. Don't ever forget that.

Willem is one of the ones with the upper hand and he never forgets that. He approaches Serenity without making eye contact, and instead looks down at the clipboard he carries in his freshly scrubbed hands. He informs her with the carefully controlled contempt he's been honing his whole life – further sharpened into a deceptively benevolent prejudice since immigrating to the Canadian North – that he will have to do a rape kit.

Serenity, who at the tender age of 16 has already been so sexually, physically and psychologically traumatized throughout her life that she can't rely on her own repressed memories, doesn't think she knows what a rape kit is, even though she's been subjected to one before. Dr. Basson thus gives her a detached, yet stern, clinical summary of what a rape kit entails. It's as if he is mildly irritated with such formalities, such nonsense.

When he is done with his explanation, he finally looks Serenity in the eye so that he can make it perfectly clear that if she wants his assistance she will have to cooperate with the rape kit, which to Serenity's ears sounds just as bad as the rape she endured. 

Dr. Basson doesn't add that he's a busy, important man who doesn't have time for hysterical girls who are stupid enough to go outside unchaperoned in the middle of the night.

There should be a curfew for these Indians, he thinks with disdain.

By now Serenity is sitting up on the examining table, legs dangling over the edge like the lifeless extremities of a hand-stitched cloth doll. With mascara smudged around her eyes and blood matting the back of her head where she was slammed into the tracks, she eyes the doctor through the thick curtain of her damp, black hair and says, "Fuck you". 

It is a surprisingly articulate and calm "fuck you" and grabs Willem's attention. He looks at her now as if she's a new person of interest who's only just entered the room. He experiences a brief jolt of adrenaline despite his otherwise meticulous self-control.

He would not admit it to anyone, but he does enjoy the sport of a feisty squaw.

He, however, is not accustomed to being spoken to with such irreverence by a Native of any kind and he'll have to put her in her place. Still, it's surprising – they usually don't speak at all in Willem's experience. If it's absolutely necessary that they do respond, it's normally in hard to hear, grammatically incoherent mumbles.

"I'm sorry, Miss, I'm here to assist you, but I WILL NOT tolerant abuse from you. If you want my help you'll have to address me with the respect I'm due". 

Willem does not break his intimidating stare before adding, "I'll give you a moment to think about it". 

As he turns to leave, Serenity's limp leg suddenly comes to life and she kicks at Willem, just missing his calf. She tells him if he comes near her she'll scream.

She wants to go home.

Willem is indignant and leaves to tell the police on her, who are waiting in the waiting room along with "Good Samaritan" Cathy with her sourpuss face and smug, vindictive fingers. Here's to hoping karma does its job and arthritis sets in early.

The "good" doctor then returns to Serenity with the same two RCMP officers who had taken her initial statement. This fine duo of public service attempts to set Serenity straight, none of these adults evidently cognizant that they are dealing with an abused child who has just been brutally assaulted. 

Serenity is understandably distraught when confronted with all this menacing "help" and again spews "abusive" expletives.

How do these men, responsible for a minor's care and well-being, deal with Serenity's perfectly justifiable acting out? They wash their hands of her. 

Dr. Basson, most likely never abused, harassed or demeaned in his entire privileged life, literally tells a teenage girl who has just been abused beyond imagination that he will not be abused by her. Unless she stops abusing him, he says he cannot treat her and leaves Serenity alone with the RCMP officers. 

The officers offer to drive her home. She tells them, risking arrest by the way, to fuck off too, the way she did the "good" doctor.

Fortunately they do not arrest her, but they don't do anything else, either.

Serenity is "free" now to walk home in the rain with her grandmother. She wants to say "I told you so" but why bother? 



Saturday, May 28, 2016

Her Battered Mind

Somewhere in the dark recesses of her battered mind,
Was a lost fleck of ego she thought she'd never find.
She gave up the search and her outlook grew bleak;
The storm in her head reached a dangerous peak.

She walked around buried alive from within,
Choking on air, nails clawing under skin.
She bore the torture but wanted it to cease,
She craved some sort of eternal release.

A corpse inside a breathing body she would soon be,
If she didn't put a permanent end to her misery.
But before she could take matters into her own hands,
She heard a voice giving outrageous commands.

It told her to change her thinking and give it a rest,
But with gun in hand, she cried she couldn't endure one more test.
But its calm persistence made her ask why in a tone quiet and flat,
And it replied because she was worth it, as simple as that.

She can't say how or whence the voice came,
Whether ego, delusion, or God, it's all just the same.
But she knows to this day when her mood darkens the light,
There's a spark living in her, waiting and ready to ignite.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Escape from a Residential School

Wanda secretly planned a summer trip home. It was a trip she and her family had been promised 3 years beforehand when she was taken from her village. All the children, in fact, were taken from the village and brought to St. Michael's Indian Residential School to live. There they would be educated in the Anglo-Saxon and Christian traditions.

They were told it was for the good of their people. Through religious indoctrination of their young, the savages would be assimilated into civilized society and their heathen souls redeemed. Youngsters were thus plunged into an ironically savage world of government sanctioned abductions and punitively run religious boarding schools.

Emily Carr, Gitwangak (1912), Oil on Canvas

Such traumatic circumstances wore down most of the children. Wanda, however, was not easily broken. She was beautiful, the daughter of a Haida princess and warrior chief, and drew great strength from knowing her heritage. This did not sit well with the staff. The Sisters of St. Michael’s and their priest, Father Fredrick, did all they could, in the name of Jesus Christ, to break the child.

The things they did to break her would have made hardened men – men under the very shield of a patriarchal God, beg for mercy and pledge allegiance to the Enemy. 

But no matter what they did, her spirit would not be broken. 

The Guardians

She seemed protected by an invisible shield and the guardian eagles of her ancient ancestors who flew overhead. They left warning feathers as evidence of their presence -- witnesses to the atrocities inflicted under the guise of a manmade god.

Under such tutelage, Wanda's soul was emboldened to stand strong and resolute no matter what was done to her. She continued to whisper in her native language to the other students. When the Sisters heard, they stabbed her tongue with knitting needles as punishment for speaking Satan's words. Wanda grew accustomed to such tortuous lessons and dealt with the beatings, starvation, solitary confinement and sexual assaults as the stoics taught, transforming adversity into mental triumph and spiritual strength.

She was sure if her people found out what was really happening at St. Michael's, she and the other children would be rescued. It was this belief that fueled Wanda's resolve to escape during the warm summer months in search of help. 

She told the other children she'd soon be back for them. And true to her word, Wanda was indeed returned to the children. She was returned by the Sisters who had caught her trying to leave in the middle of the night. They tortured her until the wee morning hours and intended to use her barely alive body as an example for the rest of the children. 

There is no greater restraint on a renegade spirit than fear.

But under the shield of Wanda's invisible guardians, she felt no pain and endured the last hours of her incarnation without so much as a whimper, until her spirit was finally delivered home.

With her soul safely back in the womb of creation, the men and women of St. Michael's had to make due with the girl's lifeless body. They took her prepubescent corpse, naked and bruised, and hung it by a rope from the grand oak overlooking the school. The rest of the terrorized students were assembled in front of the body as it swayed along with a mighty wind in the hot early sun. 

A murder of crows swirled overhead as eagles stood guard.

Father Fredrick stood before the grand oak and began his hellfire and brimstone sermon. But as his preaching gained a terrible momentum and his voice shrilled, rather than instill abject fear in the children, they were comforted with a great calm. And there in front of their innocent eyes, a pair of almighty eagles descended from on high, converging with talons drawn on Father Fredrick's jugular.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Leftovers: Lesser Cousins of a Better Creed

The leftovers waited patiently,
In the fridge for their turn.
They did not harbor resentment,
Nor was their banishment of concern.

Except Brussels who saw the writing on the wall;
They knew they'd be rejected and started to pout,
"Through no fault of our own we stink,
Like rotten eggs and old sauerkraut!"

Potatoes tried to console them with sage advice:
Sure, they were the lesser cousins of a better creed,
But rest assured, ALL the leftovers would be
Sought after by gluttony and greed.

The vegetables and their sauces,
Gravy and sausage dressing too,
Congealed under plastic wrap,
Between the mayo jar and last week's stew.

Cranberries, yams and turkey,
Cooled in the old Frigidaire.
The whipping cream and pumpkin pie,
Sat idly by without a care.

But as the leftovers leisurely gossiped
In the crisp Freon atmosphere,
Brussels foresaw a hopeless destiny:
"We're never getting out of here!"

The sprouts had been overcooked,
And gave off their rancid smell.
They would be the only leftover
The gluttons would repel.

The other leftovers humored Brussels,
While furtively rolling their esculent eyes.
Then just as predicted they heard muffled voices,
"You get the turkey, I'll get the pies!"

They could hear clanging glass,
And the fridge door creaking.
With a flood of light the gluttons had arrived,
Whispering and sneaking.

Leftovers were piled onto plates,
And heated in the microwave.
But not the Brussels sprouts 
Condemned to rot in their frigid grave.