Quiet Rooms

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

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.

 

Chris Hubbard

Arromanches-les-Bains, Normandy, France

2015.

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