Nicknamed “bluebirds” because of their blue uniforms and white veils, Canada’s nursing sisters saved lives by caring for wounded and sick soldiers as well as convalescents, prisoners of war, and even civilians on occasion. Canadian war museum
Women have cared for wounded soldiers throughout Canada’s wartime history. “Nursing sisters” carried out official duties with the military during the North West Rebellion, the South African War, the First and Second World Wars, and the Korean War. Dozens died from enemy action and disease during their service.
warning: graphic images of war and injuries
Nursing Sisters serve at the No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital in France during the First World War.
A wordle is a word cloud; at mind love misery’s menagerie, Yves creates a weekly wordle writing prompt of at least 12 words. The goal is to use at least 10 words from the list.
In my micro-fiction triptych below, italics indicate words from Yves’ prompt list.
love in the time of war (october 18, 2016)
Out of the terribleness of the field dressing stations, they forged a friendship that went beyond her nurse’s uniform, and his army doctor’s rank.
Delirious soldiers begged to have shell-blasted limbs remain; she held their hands, and soothed them, while he rationed out medicine by saw blade. She gave his precision humanity.
Soldiers, too many nights in no man’s land trenches, where a sudden silence denoted an instant blast – a torchwood of heat and flame—shuddered at any pneumatic sound. She reassured them; he tried to keep them away from active duty.
Orders came from Medical HQ: the nurse and doctor were being assigned to different units. They wondered if a skulker had reported them embracing each other for support and comfort. The lavation of their love from their hearts and souls began.
keepsakes of war (october 24, 2016)
Assigned to another field hospital, she would seduce peace from the bedizen wraith of war herself if she could. Constant treadmill of gore and pain. Nothing changed; yet … her belly swelled until its’ convex nature could no longer be hidden. Dismissed in dishonour. “Filth,” spat the head nurse and colonel. But she had a keepsake of her doctor, her lover, a tiny baby girl: Pax.
As legs were sawn and the shell-shocked screamed, he deconstructed her few letters; searched for her through war zones. He grew despondent, alexithymic. Pax grasped her crayon like a scalpel. The causalities of war need not bear outward wounds.
love in the time of peace (october 31, 2016)
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the Armistice was signed; eschatology of war to cease.
After 4 years of being drouked in blood, he found it impossible to return to being a civilian doctor. Instead, he took a position at a mental institution. Among the mad, the bedraggled, the debris of society, he found a certain kind of peace. He understood their flight from reality. And, though he might try to deceive himself, his heart still held love for her.
She forged a life for herself and little Pax, wrapping her child in love, standing sentry against the perceived adversities of the world. Her transition from war to peace not seamless; a passing glance of a man’s face, so much like his, through a subway car window wiped the film of denial away with her tears. Once she had found him on the battlefield, in time of war. Could she find him again, in time of peace?
for more on Canadian nursing sisters in WW1, see, for example: nursing sisters and world war 1 (Guysborough, NS great war veterans); Remembrance: those who served – woman veterans (Department of Veterans Affairs); Canadian Nurse: “the first world war nursing sisters”; Canadian war museum; Canadian nursing history collection online; the call to duty
editor’s note: nurses in Canada are no longer referred to as “sisters.”
next installment: I published in the wrong order. Tomorrow is the answer to: which Canadian artist is known for painting with her brushes and her words . . .