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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 2, June 2014

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Doris Lynch
Bloomington, Indiana, USA


Independence Day

I’ve been nursing for five months. Connected to this sweet child, what I miss most are nature outings and solitude. On my husband’s day off, we load the pirogue on the VW’s roof and head out 1-10 west past the New Orleans Airport. On the berm beside the dark waters of an unnamed bayou, I nurse Kristen one last time.

I start rowing. The pirogue’s a Louisiana boat, not as light or manageable as a kayak, but so flat-bottomed that you can plow through even the shallowest water. With the wind at my back, I zoom ahead, almost flying the five miles toward the lake.

Turning around at Lake Pontchartrain, I notice a dark mass of thunderheads overhead. The wind picks up. On the brown surface of the water, small roils appear. Each thrust and pull of my paddles seems almost futile; the boat moves forward only inches. Whenever I rest in between rows, I lose precious bayou territory.

With all my strength, I heave and pull. The bayou curves often, and at some places pine groves block the wind. On these windings, I furiously propel the pirogue forward knowing that my husband and daughter will be back by the road, my daughter hungry and crying.

Soon my arms ache, my back also. Throbbing too are my breasts as they fill uncomfortably with milk. No stopping to watch a blue heron do her statuesque dance, or to ponder whether a dark shape is a beached log or a resting alligator.

One final curve, and I see cars whizz past on the highway. There parked by the bridge, is our beige VW. My husband stands jiggling my daughter, Kristen, in his arms. As I paddle the last stretch, the wind suddenly abates and flat sheets of rain crash down, warm and soothing on my tired arms and sore shoulders.

falling rose petals
the child in my arms
reaches reaches

oyster shells ping
each with its own sound
baby gurgling

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