The Warrior: A Mother's Story of a Son at War

Frances Richey, Author
Frances Richey, Author Viking Books $21.95 (84p) ISBN 978-0-670-01961-8
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 96 pages - 978-1-101-02358-7
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-1-101-02469-0
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-1-101-02321-1
Paperback - 84 pages - 978-0-14-311511-3
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Richey's son went from West Point to the Green Berets and thence to the war in Iraq. Her poems about him have appeared both in literary quarterlies and in O: The Oprah Magazine; this consistently moving, straightforward collection of those poems seems likely to gain much attention. Richey (The Burning Point) remembers her earlier years as a single mother, living through a traumatic miscarriage, juggling work and home life, and later grappling with her son's military vocation: ""My son has brothers now,"" she writes, ""the family she wanted."" Richey's strongest lines, however, find a sharp blend between personal emotions and public events: she writes a poem to her son's helmet, to his gun, to his ""desert camo boots,"" warning herself, ""I can't protect him."" Richey, who comes from West Virginia but lives in New York, sees signs of the current conflict everywhere-at the planetarium, for example, or in a taxicab. More than just a book about one war, Richey's collection becomes instead a book about what military service (especially high-risk combat service, such as her son's) does to the psyches and daily lives of those who serve and those who love them. In a museum exhibit about the Civil War, Richey grows ""sick to my stomach,/ face-to-face with the gallantry/ of men young/ as my son""; hearing that son, home on leave, boast about his regiment's destructive powers, she muses with self-conscious helplessness, ""If I could take that hat off his head,/ he wouldn't say those things.""
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