War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

anniversary

we blazed trails along the frozen shore. snowshoes through frozen reeds, thorns and bows and arrows of last summer’s grasses. all was silent, sweet but for swishes of cornmeal snow with each laboured step. the sound of our breaths. the heavy lifting, the creak of my ruck. through perfect marzipan layers of fresh snowfall. we made a track. sometimes two. sometimes he was ahead. sometimes I made the path. sometimes side-by-side.

layered down we sweat the good sweat of work. when the mind stills. and all the chattering of his war racked. went to ground for more than a few hours.

we skirted a point. found shelter where the elk bed down. layered up. he lit the little stove. brewed strong black coffee. I unpacked the baguette, the cheese, olives, pepper salami, chocolate and mandarine oranges.

we ate. watched a coyote pad across the frozen lake. above us, prairie sky. faded cornflower blue. the sun soft and wintery.

cold stealthed, stalked. my fingertips numbed blue. he broke hand warmers, slipped them into my gloves. put my hands under his jacket, under his arms. 20 winter Ex’es, deployments, A’stan taught him warm hands mean survival.

we packed up. trudged on towards the coyote. but it was gone.

the sun lowered towards the horizon. over the lace birch. only an hour’s light left. we turned back. quietly. he forged ahead. waited for me to catch up. then carried on. wordless. listening only to my snowshoes in squeakless snow. deep and soft.

almost back to the truck we turned. watched the sun slip like a coin into the west. sipped a tiny drop of single malt from a flask. toasted Andrew. poured a libation for him into the snow.

from nowhere, a raven. (we hadn’t seen a bird all day) gorgeous. winged silently above us. circled, took off into the dusk.

“I never thought you’d come back as a raven my friend,” he laughed. and on this anniversary of the young one lost, found the light again. “go well. go well. I’m so glad to know, you’re good to go.”

our snowshoes released. we made for home.


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled anniversary. It was posted here on December 25, 2010.

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