By Kate Foran
For my father at the start of the second Iraq War, 2003
You enlisted thinking
you were protecting something,
thinking maybe even
you were protecting me
when I was just a “twinkle in your eye”
and the crossfire lit the night
and missed you.
You did not know then
that you’d want to protect me
not from some enemy
but from the question,
Did you kill anyone, Dad?
Now, at the vigil,
the snow falling like ashes
becomes gathering doves
on your shoulders.
Now you stand against another war
the way you stand against the wind
to shield the candle in your cupped palms.
And I know it’s not only the memory of me
you cradle in your steady hands,
it’s some other father’s daughter,
the flicker in someone else’s eyes.