My Daughter

She was picking yellow flowers
Smiling at the sunlight
Weaving stems to make a necklace
Working hard to get it all right
She reached out to trade it
For the bread her mama brought her
And when I looked into her eyes, I saw my daughter

Her feet were bare as mine were
When I grew up in the country
And just like her I watched my mother
Hanging out the laundry
Now she’s grabbed some clothes and darted off
And her mama chased and caught her
And when I looked into her eyes, I saw my daughter

Now she’s running down the alleyway
Dust rising up behind her
She hides beneath the rubble
Where nobody can find her
And when she tires and walks back home
Her mama tells her that she loves her
And when I looked into her eyes, I saw my daughter

And when the sun sets she is hungry
But there’s no more bread to give her
The cement floor is cold tonight
And beneath the rags she shivers
And as the jet planes scorch the sky
She’s longing for her brother
As the bombs fall in the distance
She wonders, will the next one fall much closer
It’s not so far to Basra
And I could be her father
And when I looked into her eyes, I saw my daughter

“My Daughter” originally appeared on Living In These Times CD (2001), and later on For the Moment CD (2005).

I wrote this song during the long period of US-led UN sanctions on Iraq, which led to the deaths of half a million children, according to the UN.  (What that says about the UN, to say nothing of the US, is a scary question.)  I was inspired by Kathy Kelly’s group, Voices in the Wilderness, to write this song, among others.  Particularly the story I heard from Kathy or Brad or someone there in Chicago, how when they started protesting the deadly sanctions regime in public, they got a lot of shit from some passersby.  Then when they changed their banner so it just had the picture of an Iraqi girl and the caption, “is she your enemy?”, people stopped giving them a hard time.  The message got through that way.  I hope the same is true of this song.  (The challenge then is who is going to hear it, but that’s another question.)

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