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Rear Support

By Suzanne Rancourt

The Reticent Veil

This is really true.
I never had the grief wiped away
with White Eagle feathers or songs sung
or special foods prepared.

It is true that I dreamt you were sick and dying
and I awoke saying, “This can’t be true.”
But when our Bear Clan brother came and said it was so
the grief appliquéd itself to my heart
as varicose webbing and loss
which I added to all the many losses
that came and went before you
and they all came back at Ceremony
when me and a Dance brother folded the flag
for the last time on the last day
that he handed to me in a shape that brought it all back to 20 years before
standing on the hillside, looking over Wilson Lake
dress blues, rifles and chorfram dress shoes cracked
the unusually frigid December  where a flag was folded and handed to me in a shape
that equaled the grief of the world
which came and went as concrete and steel crushed
as the bones and dust I wake up chewing
and it all came back
when me and a sister held taught
a Grande Parade of a royal blue silk veil
maintaining reticent tension –
lovers and wives of warriors, sisters of warriors,
mothers of sons who are warriors –
we folded sharp angled silence with the precision of lock and load
we creased with steady cadence our losses and recognized each other
not letting go
of the fabric the wind claims for a moment
and my words fluttered
“This is not a flag we are folding.”

Suzanne Rancourt is a multi-model artist working as an expressive arts therapist, consultant, and educator with 10 years of military service. She has also experienced the military from a support perspective as “Rear Support” reflects on those losses and how grief embeds itself in our everyday “doing.”

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