The Farewell

I heard the bugler play the first post at 22:00 as I cleaned my rifle one last time and laid it on my pack. Checked the foresight, checked the rear-sight, the gas setting, bayonet boss and strap.  I listened more intently at 22:20 when he played the last post for the night... would he soon be playing it for me? The night was still, the stars were bright, was this to be our last kiss goodnight.

I watched through the camp at 22:40 when the bugle call for 'lights out' was played, and then quietly oiled my bayonet and snicked it into its scabbard. No more movement in Papakura Camp, until the 04.00 hours parade.

You (my love) are there and I am here, until I leave at dawn... I shoved my pack under my blankets, and the made my way to the wire; watching for the camp piquet, but they never came, and in an instant I was home once more, in your arms; close, warm, knifed edged, and emotional... we kissed, and held and made love.

I promised I would leave the service, after this one last Tour away, and then we kissed once more, and my watch said four, and darling I knew it was time and I should be away.

I shook our sons awake and kissed each boy, and hugged them close with my love, Danny first - he knew it was important; then David half asleep, then Jacob grumpy and tired, but wee Joshua he was so small... and there was no waking him... so we parted without a final goodbye.

And so that night, I went off, to the fortunes of Peace and War... and for our son Joshua, Daddy became a colour picture of a smiling Kiwi soldier; above our bedroom door.

©Mike Subritzky
April 2001
Rhodesian War 1979