War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

cat in the box

“cat in the box” my daughter laughed as she said this tonight.

“what?” I asked

“cat in the box” she chuckled some more

“what ARE you talking about?”

“the chinese food mess in KAF. don’t you remember?”

I had totally forgotten. the food there was actually rather good. a stir-fry cook. asian (ish) food. nice decor. red walls and big paper fans. an attempt at something special.

it was tough to find the mess in the dark and dust of evening KAF. I think it was down near the southern razor wire. young Lt. X drove me in a GWagon or was it a truck? part of his babysitting job, KEEP THE POET OUT OF TROUBLE. we ate and chatted and rated all the messes in KAF. did restaurant reviews of them.

young Lt. X was confined to KAF in the HQ for his tour unless something happened outside the wire and then he’d have to step up and lead a platoon.

something did happen. Lt. X had to head out and hit the ground running.

I wrote Lt. X. eight months after he got home. I wondered how conflicted it was for him. his ambition was to lead a platoon (and by all accounts I heard he did well) but as a stand-in, the only way it would happen was if something bad happened to someone else. an unenviable position. no win.

and I told him how when I heard the news of the death of his comrade and realized he’d be heading out to lead the platoon, my first thoughts were about how Lt. X’s mother must be feeling. one minute her son was safe at a desk job in KAF, the next he was leading outside the wire where his comrade had died.

funny how something will trigger something else. my daughter laughing at cat in the box and I’m right back there inhaling the dust of KAF and looking at the young, young man so full of ambition and open-heartedness and I think of the other young man so full of ambition and open-heartedness. the one who never made it home.

2 Comments (Closed)

Nancy Wilson

I’ve been wondering how you would deal with your own daughter enlisting.

Feb 10 2011 · 16:42


we must all follow our destinies, we must all listen to what is in our hearts. when we fail to, we die inside. and this is the exact comfort the next-of-kin that I’ve met take. their beloveds died doing what was right for them. and it was the greatest act of love to tell their beloveds that they stood behind them as they watched them leave. maybe forever.

Feb 12 2011 · 17:27

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled cat in the box. It was posted here on January 24, 2011.


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