Epilogue: ‘Mother to Mother’
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Lynda Van Devanter’s politicising the private grief of the mother as a protest against war is employed again in a Vietnam nurse veteran’s response to the First Gulf War. In her poem ‘The Muslim Mother’, Bobbie Trotter takes the images of war beyond American mourning on the home front to include the mourning of ‘the other’. Trotter brings together the iconic Christian image of mother (the Pieta) with ‘the other’ Muslim mother as a way of uniting two opposing cultures in the single image of a mother’s plea against war: ‘The Muslim / mother went / to the grotto / clutching her son’s / picture to her aching breast’. The poem strips away the public and, by implication masculine, rhetoric that divides nations and sends them to war: ‘it wasn’t her faith in Allah / it wasn’t her faith in Jesus / that led her there’. This specific Muslim mother thus becomes the universal image of maternal grief, ‘before the statue / of the Virgin / Mary she fell / prostrate’, through whom Trotter can reject constructions of meaning that sustain the binaries essential to the perpetuation of war. For a mother war can be understood only in terms of personal loss and grief: ‘and begged / mother to / mother / please / end / this / war’ (Van Devanter and Furey (eds)., 1991, p. 180).
KeywordsBereave Family Private Experience Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial Site Funeral Ceremony
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