CFAP Suzanne Steele

The following material originates with an organization not subject to the Official Languages Act and is available on this site in the language in which it was written.

So Beautiful

Medium: Poetry
Dimensions: Non applicable
Date: 2009

I watch you infantryman
so gucci in the Suffield dust
your body turned by a year of sweat
duress, Carl G sleeplessness,
like liquid glass blown gaudy
in the white-hot war furnace
into something steely, fragile, precious.
Your bed, the inside of your head
nodding into your frag vest,
mother LAV humming hot then cold,
while Cpl. Zee on sentry blows
cigarillo halos at emerald worlds
of infra-red, thermals,
watching watching arcs right
then left, ghosty glows
coyotes creeping tall prairie grass.
You, zenith of man at 26,
face sooted green with live-fire,
two-tour-old-guy-eyes in young man’s skin,
I’ll think of you when you go over again, your pencil, your pen,
your sketchpad falling from your sleeping hand;
I’ll think of you, the bitching brothers,
sleeping upright in the belly of the LAV
shoulder-to-shoulder, knee-to-knee crammed,
doing time in cell-phone-Bible-land,
I’ll think of you, all of you,
‘til the Herc lands
and most of you
come marching home again.

"One imprecise line of poetry brought Suzanne Steele from the fat rains of Victoria, B.C., to the searing moondust of Kandahar. Three years ago, the poet read about the death of Corporal Anthony Boneca, a Thunder Bay reservist killed in 2006 near Kandahar city, and felt compelled to write an elegy. 'I had been away in the U.K. for a few years and, until then, didn't realize how involved Canada was in the war,' she said. 'As a poet, I just had to respond.' But her efforts stalled on the line 'in fields of grape vines and hot white dust.' Nestled on the west coast of Canada, the poet didn't have a clue what the colour of dust was in Afghanistan. So she picked up the phone and called National Defence in Ottawa. that call would lead her down a path to becoming [a CFAP artist]. 'Accuracy in imagery is very important,' she said. 'I had to get the colour right'." -Excerpt from Globe and Mail article by Patrick White, "Penning lyrical images of the 'broken beautiful men." Globe and Mail, 28 November 2009