War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

farmer's son

I know them. I worked alongside them in fields. me hipping, throwing bales of new mown hay. groaning with each toss. while they, their youth, their budded maleness, flipped 35 kilos of twined bales like basketballs. effortless. muscles brassed by weeks following the tedder, the baler, the old pick up truck round and round. they laughed as they outdid one another. who could throw more. who could throw higher.

they grabbed handfuls of hay, shoved them down each other’s shirts. wrestled. swore. joked. they were golden as they worked the field next to an ocean sequined by summer. the Olympic mountain range in the distance rooted with snow. the sky was a blue forever.

I fed them. farmer’s sons. their bellies bottomless in lambing season. in haying season. ginger cookies rolled in sugar. shortbread. chili. carbs carbs carbs for the cold or the heat. sweat of honest work.

and I know them in other fields. have worked alongside them. me not at the wheel of a truck but packed flat against the turret. rolling. bumping. thudding through thunder of live fire. the giant hard knock. of war. the LAV their new pickup truck.

I carried a black fountain pen and little cigars (to share with them). they carried C6’s C7’s, radios, Karl Gustaves, hooligan kits. we wore frags, helmets, ballistics. with them I suffered sleep dep, puking, isolation, cold, heat, boredom, depression, elation, jokes, tears, kick-ass coffee, stories, stories stories. we ate, traded IMPs like baseball cards. I slopped spuds and veg. on their plates, winked at the young ones like an aunt, when I took up my place in the flying kitchen.

I boarded a Herc., a Chinook. flew to them. stood sentry. at the pointy end. shuddered each time a big truck drove by. wondered which of us might die should it blow.

and with them I suffered loss. at war. on the home front.

the home front. they all talk about. esp. farmer’s sons. “all I want is a little farm. all I want is a normal life. hobbies. children. a wife.” I’ve heard them say. but then I ask if they’d trade this war. I rarely heard no.

these ones who go over. in all honesty I’d say, went because they had to. something inside of them needed to be satisfied. a huge seam of wanting to help in many. testing oneself. one’s limits in others. adventure. some born to soldier. others to learn it.

I’ve lived in small town B.C., small town Nova Scotia. travelled the length of this country by car several times. always stopping in the centre of villages. reading the cenotaphs. names from the wars.

in my own little village they haven’t added Afghanistan yet though we’ve lost one of ours. the mayor says, “it’s not over yet”.

meanwhile, somewhere in Ontario, family gathers. to grieve their farmer’s son. who chose to stroll the dangerous land. debate ‘til your breathless but know one thing. like those boys throwing bales against a summer sky. he was golden.

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled farmer's son. It was posted here on April 12, 2010.


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