Ryan Smithson is an army reservist,
student at Hudson Valley Community College, and employee of Greenbush
Child Caring, a before- and after-school program. "Hard Canvas"
is an excerpt from Silence and Silhouettes, a work in progress about
the author's year in Iraq in 2004–5.
We’re pouring concrete into holes created by IEDs—roadside bombs. The ground in Iraq is extremely hard. A landscaper’s nightmare, it’s not made for digging and planting. Most of the IEDs are set on the top of the ground.