Muse is a personal investigation into the historical and contemporary correlations between pomegranates and hand grenades by the author, an artist based in the Midwest. The essay begins with her reminiscences of witnessing a red-stained feast of the “exotic” pomegranate that was hosted by a friend of Armenian descent; then it chronicles the fruit’s historical associations as a fertility and religious symbol in many cultures since ancient times and its cultivation, beginning in the Fertile Crescent and extending across Asia and into Europe and North America. Upon her realization that hand grenades are named after pomegranates, the author describes physical comparisons between the bomb and the fruit, provides a brief history of grenades and grenadiers, and then muses on the contemporaneous marketing campaigns for the War on Terror that paved the way for the 2003 United States invasion into Iraq, and for POM Wonderful beverages that “defy death” as an “Antioxidant Superpower™.” As the hyperbolic claims of both marketing campaigns were later debunked—Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and pomegranate juice does not cure cancer—the essay concludes by noting a recent, modest investment by the US government into the cultivation and exporting of pomegranates in Afghanistan as a hopeful sign.
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