So a while back, I’d written a poem about a woman in a box. It was a real simple poem. I thought, if a woman were kept in a box, presumably against her will, what would she think and say. “I am here. Hear me,” in refrain was pretty much all I could come up with. Then the refrain becomes a bit more urgent, “Please hear me,” and then it fades away.
That box, a metaphor for gendered social restrictions. Yes? I thought about that box when I was reading news stories about Elisabeth Fritzl, the captive daughter of Josef Fritzl in Austria; when Jaycee Dugard was found; and again recently, after the three young women rescued by Charles Ramsey in Ohio made the news.
And then in this week’s news, a 15-year old girl, a runaway abducted by pot farmers, literally kept in a box and sexually assaulted, up in Lake County, north of the Bay Area, west of Chico. The measurements of the box were four feet by two feet by two feet. What the fuck. I read the story at the San Francisco Chronicle. Then I came across the story of this girl in The Press Democrat, and in this version of the story, an interesting detail:
Investigators found a poem signed by the girl in Balletto’s trailer that “described her life as being locked inside a box with holes in it,” the complaint said.
This girl literally wrote a poem from inside a box. So I’m angry because I don’t even have to make this shit up. I imagine a scenario, and am appalled at myself for my capacity to imagine such a scenario. And then, the fact that it really happens, more times than is ever reported, reinforces the importance of writing it, and then gets me thinking of the importance of language. How to write the thing for what it is. To borrow Albert Casuga’s word, to write “derecho.”
This new poem I’ve just written answers my previous question about what to do with my baybayin translation of a portion of Anne Waldman’s “Fast Speaking Woman.” These two pieces are combined on one page consisting of two contrasting columns. Again, an abrasive rub.
What’s most important to me about this latest poem is my inclusion of that detail from The Press Democrat. She wrote and signed a poem.