One day two years ago, I visited the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy, a sombre and unsettling experience. This piece came directly from that day.
Quiet rooms in stone villas,
fearful wanderings in fine spaces, staring
over wild June's glinting barbed-wire strands;
streaming faces tumble over cascading waterfronts,
where we trembled.
Nightmares overtake us like pounding tsunami
with insistent heft of awakened storm-sands.
The shock of nature's idle disregard
for human madness
flounces, cold-shouldered, among the terracota,
through madly flapping garden deckchairs,
as uncertain watchers scan the horizon
for steadily advancing seaside visitors
with growing panic, pounding hearts, a sudden pain -
eyes plead mere impossible innocence, or
fade to grey with evening's isolating gleam.
After the Norman invasion, November storms
hurl fierce autumnal salt-seas across the shocked strand,
as shivering bedroom glass shudders and bows,
whipped branches slashing 'Shhhhh!' and 'Rushhhhhhhh!'
chanting never forget, never forget, never forget …
Where fever'd shadows of flailing gardens, gales lashing
pale plaster walls, check once more their escape route - asserted
by the loom of a single street-light, alone and Junoesque,
quivering its exhausted shadow over strange shores.
Arromanches-les-Bains, Normandy, France