When I received my dismissal, my captain said I might go where I liked. I had no money, so I went to my brothers and asked them to take me in until war broke out again.

“What can we do with you?” they said. “You are no use to us. Go make your own living.”

I slung my gun over my shoulder and went on my way. I came to a wide and desolate heath where nothing stood but a circle of trees. There I sat, staring into the earth. What would I do? I had no other trade but fighting….


Discharged Soldier in Bearskin, Grimms, (from The Story Finder, WonderLit., illustration by Arthur Rackham)


When we are conditioned to fight,
to stand up against
everything we can’t stand for

How will we fare in peace?

Where are we left
when there’s nothing left
to fight for?

Will good soldiers
seem weak?

Will we ever cross
that no-man’s land
that no man wants to leave?

I’m standing with
the discharged soldier
just another sapling
in a circle of trees

Wondering if he can do it
if any man can remember
how to live in peace.

— Michelle Tocher

In loving memory of my grandfather,
who returned to Canada from Vimy Ridge
and became a B.C. park warden
and for whom these questions may have been
a life’s work.

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