( Dedicated to Cindy Sheehan )
My father was a prisoner of the Japanese
during World War Two.
He used to say that most of those dying
would cry out for their mothers
and cover their private parts before they died.
They would curl up in a ball,
call for their mothers,
and cover themselves up.
might fall to the floor, be carried to her bed,
and just lie there, crying her heart out
She might be left there in the dark
to cry her guts out.
Later she would come out of her room
kerchief in hand, eyes averted,
and stoically begin the long, lonely march
to the burial site of her son.
would be all that served to tie off that place
where old memories are hemorrhaging
and new ones will never be born.
She would be expected to wrap pride,
like a wreath, around her pain.
She would be expected to wear a medal
over the empty residence of her heart.
One more mother,
pacified and drafted
into the ranks of those who have traded
their most precious possession
for gunfire, a folded flag, and words of consolation.
Starting in Crawford, Texas
a sea-change has occurred.
One mother has decided
that she doesn't want to wear pride
around her pain.
She doesn't want to cover the residence
of her heart
with a medal.
She's not satisfied
to go away
with empty words of consolation.
She is doing what all mothers have wanted to do.
should have done,
since the beginning of war.