“Dark Shadow”, by Master Corporal Charles Matiru – Afghanistan, June 2009

Master Corporal Charles Wahome Matiru
Master Corporal Charles Wahome Matiru

Not all battles fought by soldiers are on the battlefield or in times of war. Even years after arms have been laid down, psychological conflict can wage on internally; these struggles are often unseen, yet still have great potential to wound or even kill. This poem, Dark Shadow, was written in 2009 by Kingstonian Master Corporal Charles “Chuck” Matiru, one soldier who lost his life to that internal conflict.

 

Once again I see my shadow
He does not leave my side
Clinging to me at every turn
As before his taunts are unrelenting

Mother prays he lets me be
My return will ease her worry
I keep my shadow at bay
Writing home that all is well

I am longing for high noon
My shadow will be no more
I have a job to do
The ominous shadow must be ignored

I venture into the city’s heart
My protection, cunning camouflage and gun
My shadow creeps an inch closer
He anticipates his chance to strike

Mission complete: time for some reflection
Reliving those moments of extreme tension
The young man on the motorbike
A suicide bomber, shadow’s willing conduit

He missed his chance this time
Yet he remains by my side
Not willing to give me up easily
Knowing more missions are to follow

Why am I here I ponder
Dancing with my shadow once again
I realize I have no fear
I am numb to his derision

The sun is shifting way above
High noon is approaching with haste
I see my shadow slowly shrinking
Home is beckoning my destiny awaits

Not every man evades his shadow
This theatre filled with such violence
Today another of ours has fallen
Man’s hatred toward man so senseless

Master Corporal Charles Matiru was born on August 2nd, 1980, in Nairobi, Kenya. He enlisted in the Army in May of 2003. For his service, he received the South-West Asia Service Medal, three Afghanistan Bars (SWASM), and the General Campaign Star – SOUTH-WEST ASIA (GCS-SWA). He resided in Kingston, ON, serving in a unit based out of CFB Kingston. He sought treatment for PTSD in 2012. He died by suicide in Kingston, ON, on January 15, 2013, at the age of 32.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or thinking of suicide, please:

  • Go to the nearest hospital, or
  • Call 911, or
  • Call a crisis line. In Kingston, you can call Telephone Aid Line Kingston (TALK) at 613-544-1771, or the Addictions & Mental Health Services-KFLA 24/7 Crisis Line at 614-544-4229.

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