War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

Suffield (from May Day)

Another installment of May Day, a fictional series of letters from a young woman to her lover serving as a Warrant Officer in Afghanistan. For a backgrounder on the project, click on the May Day icon at the right, or listen to the audio broadcast, writing May Day.


here I am! don’t worry, I won’t email piles of pics again. I know digital drip of FOB internet frustrates. and you, your men so tired. the last thing you want, after a patrol, is to sit up late, stare at a screen. still, I knew you’d like the one of me on stage. in my chartreuse bata de cola. the performance, my choreography heating up. I’m getting closer. only a few more months. then Spain. the real thing.

did you get my parcel? did you get my cigars? did you get my lace? I’d love to have seen your face when you opened it up. (in front of the boys I hope).

J got back last night. the dust, the crust of Suffield on skin, clothes. after three showers, two baths, I looked at him, “holy mackerel J, how can anyone get that dirty?” “28 days of Suffield,” he laughed, though I knew he didn’t find it funny. “nothing compared to Afghanistan. there, 80 per cent of the dust is dried shit, at Suffield it’s only elk and mouse and pronghorn and a bit of chemical warfare crap. green dust.” “are you kidding me?” I asked. he just looked at me blank. then he laughed again, told me about the soldier whose wife won’t let him take a bath when he first comes back. hands him the kids at the door, sends them to the wave pool at the west Edmonton Mall the minute he arrives back. her little cleansing ritual.

J got the call early April. unexpected. what he’s been wishing for. for more than a year. to go back. to desert and dust. to feeling fear. the real kind. adrenaline. alive.

“get ready. prepare for taskforce 903. somebody had to drop out. compassion leave. they needed a 2 IC. E Coy” (that’s a new one on me M, how can there be an E company?).

Suffield. “pack your bags boy, get ready to roll,” they told him. bumped him up to Captain the day he arrived. just like that. I guess his shrinks gave the okay. ready to go I suppose. (though I’m not so sure. last night he yelled in his sleep, the dog started to bark. I stumbled downstairs in the dark to see if he was okay.)

“Suffield. they all call it asshole of the world,” J says. “but I like it. curve of prairie. grass. the earth. scattered with pink granite erratics. moulted elk horns. besides, it’s live fire out there. it’s a real blast.”

and I know he’s not kidding. he shows me pics of pirates buzzing horizons, a black scorched bowl of valley, burning and thunder and big boom. prairie fire. and a shot of him in the crew commander hatch of his LAV. his face black from soot and dust. just the whites of his eyes and teeth showing. loving every second. “boys playing in dirt” he laughs.

and he tells me it feels so good to be in uniform again. to be back in the company of men. “it’s like this S, now don’t get me wrong, but out there we’re allowed to be guys.” “but there are women in the army too,” I say. “sure, good soldiers with highlights and braids. one of the best, a sapper I know, a Sgt. over in Afghanistan building and blowing things up. every single day,” J says, “but somehow they understand. it’s a man’s world out there. and can spit, chew tobacco and curse like the rest of us.”

he won’t say anything more about the women. changes subjects fast. and I’ve noticed this about him. wondered what happened. did something happen to a woman soldier last year with him? tell me M. I want to know.

anyway, J just asks me if I want to go. kayaking or swimming or to a movie. I say no, I’ve got rehearsal. just like him. I see my H hour coming. over the horizon like one of those F18s, those Black Hawks he showed me. and just like him. when it’s time to go. I want to be not just good. I want to be the best. better than the best. my dance, my life. without it, I die. (but you already know this M.)

take care my love. take care my friend. I can’t wait to see you.
home again.
clean or not.

un beau bec


About This Page

The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled Suffield (from May Day). It was posted here on May 12, 2009.


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