War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

mother's day

today is mother’s day. the day upon which we who have had the beautiful gift of bearing a child and delivering a child and raising a child, get to sit back, maybe have breakfast in bed, perhaps a bouquet of flowers, or a beautiful gift.

in my case today, I was given by my daughter an Emma Bridgewater mug with black labradors all over it. I have a thing for black labs, having had my soul-dog a lab-shepherd cross for 14 1/2 years. I still miss that neurotic, brilliant and faithful dog. and interestingly, the Emma Bridgewater mug was part of a fundraiser for the Help for Heroes Charity

but mother’s day for some can bring much pain. today is the 2nd anniversary of Cpl. Kevin “Mickey” McKay’s death by roadside bomb in Afghanistan. and it doesn’t get easier. our family knows this from personal experience. our family misses our brother and sister-in-law’s girl every day but holiday’s magnify loss. and somehow we still can’t believe she’s gone. we still expect her to show up…

I knew Mickey. he was lovely and gentle and funny and kind and wanted to help. he helped me get settled in Wainwrightistan and let me ask way too many questions when I did sentry with him or just hung with him down in the supply tent which he voluntarily manned after most of the crew was hit by a duff “rocket attack” and 9 lined out to fake KAF. he was there to help. always.

I “mom’ed” Mickey a bit too as I think I did some of the other boys I met on Ex. I fed him homemade cookies. joked. brought a little bit of home to him I hope on his road to war.

and I was there with his family and comrades, his Sgt., his best friend, the CDS, the GG, the Afghan ambassador, the brass, the chalk that accompanied him when he came home to his country at Trenton, my arm entwined with that of his OC Major Niven’s wife Bonny. I wrote this poem, ‘Who Heard (repat)’ for him.

and today I send my thoughts out to his family, but especially to his mother Beth at this mother’s day (and to Jane and to Anne and to Elaine and all the other mothers I met who lost their boys in A’stan)…

Who Heard (repat)

who heard
last summer’s grass,
the oily bird,
the grackle beaked,
the long slow pass
the chalk lines tanned
fresh plane’d from Afghanistan,
the medalled wait, the brass,
the mother weep, the father
breathe, the brother still,
the tick, click, tick
jet turbines powered down,
the crown and anchor wheel,
tick, click, tick, click, the awful sound
shuffled feet, the tarmac ground,
honour guard bring young Mickey home;

who heard the red and white,
maple leaf half-mast
the maple leaf cinched tight
around his casket,
the Flowers of the Forest piped,
“to your fallen comrade present arms”
the jet trail scratch our perfect sky,
the motorcycles’ thrum and beat
outside another wire, another gate;

who heard last summer’s grass
the glassy bird, the grackle’s beak,
who heard the wind
the opened May, the brilliant day
we clutched each other’s arms and waists
to bring young Mickey home
to stay, for good, the opened May
who heard it sing
that terrible day?


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled mother's day. It was posted here on May 13, 2012.

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