War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

poems for old vets

the fog rolled in off the Strait of Juan de Fuca and covered Hatley Castle about an hour before we hit the ground there to shoot our video for the old vets in Nova Scotia. I got there before the videographer and the piper showed up and went walking through the old Royal Roads Military College grounds. the gardens still in bloom, I grabbed a handful of lavender to calm me. pressed it to my face.

tired can’t begin to describe what I am. still, the bon courage of correspondents like Anne Snyder who lost her son overseas, inspire me to keep going. that, and the fact that my few words might bring something to the old vets at the Mira Retirement home in Truro Nova Scotia.

I’ve never shot a video before, but I had great confidence in Earle Thompson, a graduate of Applied Media at Camosun College. his enthusiasm for helping me buoyed me. his grandfather served with the Winnipeg Artillery in WWII. and Earle has an abiding interest in WWII film footage.

Earle tells of how when his grandfather came home from fighting in Italy and Normandy, he cut the buttons off his uniform and threw it in the fire and never spoke of the war again. it reminds me of my dear friend Frank who flew in the war and who never spoke once of his experiences, but named his three children after his fallen comrades.

I entered the castle, went to the women’s to try and brush my fog-frizzled hair, when in the distance I heard the sound of the pipes. Nate! my dear and reliable friend who showed up and piped me from my car and into the airport when I left for Afghanistan last year. Nate, tall, handsome and so, so kind. ex-Can Scot.

Earle, Nate and I gathered on the lawn in front of the castle, set up and rolled in one take. I read WO Quentin Mullin’s poem, Go and See Vancouver as well as my sonnet, For Young Infantrymen Training for Afghanistan, and Elegy.

I had only read Quentin’s poem once through before we shot it and was stunned by it when I read it for the taping. he was with the first deployment in Afghanistan in 2002 and is, in my opinion, a REAL war poet. not a tourist such as myself.

we wrapped filming in an hour and a half and that night Earle sent me a low-res copy to review. I asked him to put more Nate and less me in the final cut!

a job well done, and done with all of our hearts and gratitude for the old vets who served our country.


1 Comment (Closed)

marjorie thompson

Susanne thank you so much we who saw your DVD at the Mira were more than pleased I gave one copy to Archy’s daughter Lavender is very calming we here at Foggy Hollow Farm where I live grow herbs —and I know that is one of the things it is used for Thank the piper and all concerned for us It went over very well All there were just so amazed that you would take the time to send it to our “old Vets” —I see ur piper is a Thompson too small world

Nov 08 2010 · 19:11

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled poems for old vets. It was posted here on October 23, 2010.

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