War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

bedtime stories

I was asked to read a bedtime story the other night, perhaps for the first time in years.

too tired to read, I repeated a story that I had told to my three pup tent soldiers when we “went to ground” (I think that’s what the infantry call going to bed) somewhere in the wilds of the Canadian prairie… a rather lame story about three tough infantrymen sleeping in a leaguer, a wolf crawling through the long prairie grass, looking for sweeter food than scrawny hares, grabbing one infantryman after another then spitting them out because they were too tough… (I told you it was lame, but you have to play to the audience)… and the wolf finally, and predictably, because I can’t tell a story for the life of me, getting chased away and the happy ending being a full night’s sleep for the infantrymen (no night patrols etc.)…

but the thing is, I told it in French… and the young guys lying in the dark on either side of me laughed and I think they actually enjoyed someone their mothers’ age telling them a bedtime story… after all, they had been at Wainwright for weeks and I suspect that hard rations, hard cots and fields, too many cigarettes, no beer, no wives, girlfriends, children etc… was all getting rather long in the tooth for them, and even something as bizarre as a poet being landed among them must have had some novelty factor…

then too, war is a strange beast. contrasts, great contrasts. the hard metal of weapons, the soft eye lashes, the full lips, the unlined faces of young soldiers, the deadliness and the hilarity of infantry life… the stories we all have to tell as hour after hour we sit knee-to-knee, shoulder-to-shoulder, frag vest-to-frag vest, tinned and lidded into menopausal mother LAV who continually flashes hot and cold as she bumps and grinds her way across the rolling hills and flat plains, or catching whatever sleep we can, out on the open, wide, forgiving prairie.

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled bedtime stories. It was posted here on November 08, 2008.


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