We consider the propagation of few-cycle pulses (FCPs) beyond the slowly varying envelope approximation in media in which the dynamics of constituent atoms is described by a two-level Hamiltonian by taking into account the wave polarization. We consider the short-wave approximation, assuming that the resonance frequency of the two-level atoms is well below the inverse of the characteristic duration of the optical pulse. By using the reductive perturbation method (multiscale analysis), we derive from the Maxwell-Bloch-Heisenberg equations the governing evolution equations for the two polarization components of the electric field in the first order of the perturbation approach. We show that propagation of circularly polarized (CP) few-optical-cycle solitons is described by a system of coupled nonlinear equations, which reduces in the scalar case to the standard sine Gordon equation describing the dynamics of linearly polarized FCPs in the short-wave-approximation regime. By direct numerical simulations, we calculate the lifetime of CP FCPs, and we study the transition to two orthogonally polarized single-humped pulses as a generic route of their instability.