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Sunday, October 24, 2021


by Bradley McIlwain

Outdoorsy. Beautiful. Outspoken for justice. Full of humor. “Being outdoors and enjoying nature gave her that feeling of empowerment of being free,” a line from her obituary read. The 23-year-old woman was reported missing by her family after she failed to return home. Weeks later, her remains were discovered in a field in Wyoming. This wasn’t Gabrielle Petito, who disappeared a month ago and has over 20 million search results associated with her name on Google. The 23 year old was Jade Wagon, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe who went missing from her home on the Wind River Reservation in January 2020. Her death was ruled accidental due to hypothermia and drug intoxication, but her mother, Nicole Wagon, believes that her daughter was a victim of violence. Jade Wagon has 3,610 search results mentioning her name on Google. While developments on Petito’s case have made national news and retained engagement for weeks running, her story is one of tens of thousands of Americans that experience interpersonal violence every year. For many like the Wagons, the tide of activism in Petito’s case reaffirmed what was missing for women of color in similar circumstances. The vast majority do not receive widespread media coverage, let alone sizable social media investigation. Feminist journalist Gwen Ifill originally coined the term “missing white woman syndrome” in 2004, highlighting media’s tendency to favor sensationalized coverage toward white female victims of violence whilst neglecting stories of women of color, who face violence at a disproportionately higher rate, according to the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. —Kyran Berlin, Golden Gate Express, October 15, 2021

Cloudy skies.
The world shadows
Itself from prying eyes.

A shudder 
cracks the night
like a hammer
Shattering ice.

We fall through.
Our souls know
No use.

Water safeguards 
Our secrets, washes 
old bones.
We don’t see
The murder of crows
Until Valhalla is near.

After the battle
Valkyries peck 
At the armour 
we don’t need.

What’s dead
We leave behind:
Our blood on the blade.

The earth takes
Our stories, scattered
And scavenged 
under the trees.

Who will see?
Is there anyone left
Who will speak for me?

Bradley McIlwain is a Canadian writer and poet, whose works have appeared in The New Verse News, The Origami Poems Project, Platform Magazine, and others. He is the author of Elementals: Poems (IOWI, 2015).