Jo Young


Extra Detail from Kandahar International

Days before I redeploy, I’ve booked in for a wax
and a pedi with the ladies from Tajikistan
who operate a salon at the palimpsest airport.
Their chairs are US Army issue and they rest
their mighty forearms on a desk of ammo crates
above which a warning to hornier soldiers is taped;
Requests for EXTRAS will be reported to the Chain of Command.

They go at my leathery boot-sore heels
with actual sandpaper and men’s razors,
before pruning back the – ahem – summer growth
with wax-strips which they appear to reuse.

I relish the attention, free from speech
and some human contact of a neutral kind.
It’s a brutal refreshment, soviet and crisp,
and I wonder as I unwind like the string of a kite,
if I ask for french polish, will the Chain of Command mind?



Jo Young retired from the British Army in 2014 after a 16 year career and has been writing ever since. She is mum to two young sons and a doctoral student on the University of Glasgow’s Creative Writing programme where she writes and researches contemporary women’s conflict and war writing. Jo graduated from the University of St Andrews in 1998 having just won the Dan Hemingway Short Story Prize which ignited and sustained her writerly ambitions during the intervening years.

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