War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

I feel so lousy tonight

knowing you’re packed. ready. on the next chalk. we’ve counted down months, weeks, days. hours. it all seemed so academic. a theory. x + y = war when we met on Ex. last May. I was confined to my gastro tent, isolation for 48 hrs., you with your broken hand had light General Duties. were hanging around camp while the others rolled through the hills. we talked art. not war.

did you pack your Moleskine (watercolour weight), the pencils, the erasers, the pencil crayons in desert colours I bought at the Art store? on the phone the other night you said you fixed the ANZAC pin I sent to your vest. that’s great. and the ribbon I wear on stage (I’ve never fallen yet, never stopped mid-performance, never flopped) keep it in a breast pocket for good luck. next to your heart.

your voice on the phone Thanksgiving night. ryed-up. you rolling the dice again. 3rd tour. unnerved by all the love you got when you went home for the farewell. unnerved by the tears. and I said to you, “eat. make yourself a grill cheese sandwich” (because the cooks at Shilo told me that soldiers will take a grill cheese sandwich over prime rib any day of the week). then later, after we hung up, I couldn’t get to sleep until I checked in again. “ya, I ate,” you said. “now get some sleep,” I said. talking to you like an aunt, a sister, a friend, all wrapped into one worried mother hen.

I feel so lousy tonight. we had a power cut today and your voice on my answering machine was erased. I kept meaning to save it. but forgot.

I feel so lousy tonight. I wish I were there but glad I’m not. to see you grab your kit, turn out the light in your condo. lock the door. head out at dusk.

and I feel so lousy tonight. knowing the same scene is playing out across the country. farewell. goodbye. see you. take care. stay safe. all of us struggling with words. struggling not to imagine other goodbyes.

and I want to say see you soon. but who is to know where. in the desert? in KAF? some staging base? and when?

so how about this: write. sketch. draw. then call.

let me know you’re alive. let me know you are well.

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled I feel so lousy tonight. It was posted here on October 15, 2009.


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