War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

Rehearsal (from May Day)

another installment from May Day, a fictional series of letters from a young woman to her lover serving in Afghanistan. for more on May Day, click on May Day icon at the right of the site, and read, or better yet, listen to some of May Day audios


today, rehearsal. for something almost a year away. big performance. the Feria big audience. Jerez. Spain. I’m going to lay it on the line (again). my own choreography. me. all of it.

and my bad knee is good. summer in the grasslands helped straighten me. all that air. all that sky. all that dry, dry, dry. just as time out. Gagetown. has done you well. (and I know. I know. teaching officer cadets isn’t your idea of a good go, but it gave you time to breathe).

before I danced, I was so worried about how it would be, I laced my shoes up the wrong way (left over right instead of right over left. just like you, your fighting boots. for good luck). six months without a planta, a golpe, a tacon. six months without dancing even so much as a tangos never mind a seguiryea (that’s what I’m working on). I thought my feet would ache and ache. that I wouldn’t remember the compas, that I wouldn’t be able to hold my head up high. but I was wrong.

muscle memory is strong. instinctual.

and I remember you saying, “that’s how we get the boys to learn everything. to hold their weapons, fire them, enter buildings with their hooligan kits. clear. big movements. exaggerated. commit soldiering to the core. so when the shitshow begins and the guts turn liquid. the muscles take over”

and you told me how you rehearse and you rehearse. at Shilo. at Suffield. then fine tune at the dress rehearsal, WWx.

“you should see the green twigs doing house-to-house in the beginning. rounded shoulders. the look of what-have-I-got-myself-into in their eyes. then the bravado. taking the piss out of each other as they do it over and over again. until it’s second nature. until they think they’re ready for the real thing.”

“but you’re never ready for the real thing. until it’s here.”

today I marked. the five beats. Big G on guitar. Little G at his side on guitar. (the cantaor will come later. when we’ve got something to show her that says we mean business.

and all summer I wondered if I ever wanted to dance again. when my knee clicked, something bigger split inside me. like when you said you signed up for the next tour, when I heard the words,“I’ve got to go back. got business to do.” even though you had every excuse in the book not to go. “listen baby, it’s who I am”. then I knew we were probably through.

but all I had to have happen was to hear. the first chord. open. wide. and it came to me to dance. really dance. every goddamn time. because none of this is a rehearsal. not house-to-house, not 3 hours in the dance studio staring at arm positions, doing a turn over and over and over again. none of this. it’s all the real thing. and I mark every step. just as you mark every left right left.

as if it’s my last.


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled Rehearsal (from May Day). It was posted here on September 15, 2010.


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