Saturday, February 05, 2011

Where Are We? by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

...I saw a hawk

crucified on a

barbed-wire fence.

I guess as a kind

of advertisement

to other hawks,

saying from the pages

of a leading women’s magazine,

“She’s beautiful,

but burn all the maps

to your body.

I’m not here

of my own choosing.”

–Richard Brautigan

in his 1968 book:

The Pill Versus The Springhill Mine Disaster

As an artist my work has often dealt with death, not in a salacious way, but as an exploration of the human condition and its dark under shadow. The other defining quality in much of my work is exposing the invisible “other perspective” —those who are most impacted by death—the living. Not surprising then that the unfolding of the murder of two teen children by their mother, Julie Powers Schenecker is on my mind right now.

The reason for considering this event here, at this blogspot, is that this woman is a mom and she has done the unspeakable. She has crossed over the line not just because of the act of murder, but because of who she has killed: her children. As I was thinking about this woman and what I wanted to say, Brautigan’s poem came to mind. As a sensitive person, certain things seep into me deeply in a way that is often difficult to explain except to say that it is what makes me an artist.

So many questions come up for me about this woman. The nuance of “why” keeps my judgement of her in check. The act is unspeakable and yet I wonder if it is possible to consider where this darker side resides in each of us. I write this here as part of a larger question I am currently writing on with regard to the state of motherhood in America today.

Beyond the comments I have read attached to every article about this tragedy, is it possible to leave judgement behind and really consider this woman and discuss the impact this event has on all of us?

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Blogger Laura Houston said...

First off, Maureen, that was a perfect poem to lead off your discussion. What Julie Powers did was horrific and a big, red warning flag. This country is not an easy place to raise children. There is not enough support for either...mother or children. It doesn't seem to be strong enough in our values. We want to be independent, have low taxes, less government, and that pretty much leaves our kids (and mothers) out in the cold when it comes to getting healthcare, education, support and other resources. Except for guns. Those are easy enough to get. It breaks my heart for this mother and her children. And to all of the others out there who are suffering. If as a country we see our selves as a community, then we failed here to take care of our own. Just as it was with Jared Laughner, there were a hawk on a barbed wire fency.

5:56 AM  

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