Lynne Knight

The Other War

My daughter was born in the far shadow of the war, 
her father a Canadian guitarist. We turned on
the past. Who needed to heed old voices? The dead

multiplied in Vietnam while we sat waiting
for the sun to set over the Georgia Strait,
my daughter’s father playing a Bach fugue,

my heart learning the patterns rapture takes
towards complication, rupture. My daughter
was an easy baby, plump, hungry, but my milk

was not enough. Maybe it was my meager diet,
brown rice a thousand different ways. Maybe 
the dope and cigarettes I smoked. Maybe my sorrow,

because I could tell my daughter’s father no longer
desired me as he once had. My daughter nursed best 
in the quiet of night, when I sat with her in the rocker, 

the strait lapping the rocks in syncopation with her 
sucking. But she was always hungry, I feared
I would starve her, so we bought formula, bottles,

and the dream of being Earth Mother, my hair
flowing in waves down my back, one baby 
at my breast, another at my hip, a third at my feet,

vanished like the words my daughter’s father
whispered to her, tender, tender, I could never
remember enough once he was gone and the war

kept on and my hair longer and longer until the day
I hacked it off like a boy’s. My daughter plucked 
the air for it, like someone playing a lost instrument.