In War (from "After D-Day")
is pleased to present the first five parts of Judith Barrington's
poem After D-Day.
Click for numbers: One,
...unless we can relate it to ourselves personally,
history will always be more or less of an abstraction,
and its content the clash of impersonal forces and ideas.
- Czeslaw Milosz
Inside my mother's belly through April and May
I kick a bit while the armies arrive en masse.
Americans soon have their hosts saying "hi"
girls, sick of rationing, warm to their largesse.
A division of Poles, Canadian troops and Free French
chatter in various languages-men who said yes
the call, now squeezed into bunks that fill every inch
inside the camouflaged Quonset and Nissen huts
from Channel to Thames, by Dartmouth, Strete and Kingsbridge.
battledress with heavy boots, tin helmets
and all the kit they'll need when they get to France,
they rehearse on Devon beaches where one of my aunts
to sun herself, her only sign of defence
a folded newspaper sunhat shading her nose
as she munched on a sandwich, the sea a soothing presence.
Appledore and Woolacombe they use
the fields of all the evacuated people,
march to the dunes and, one by one, dispose
dummy German tanks in tactical
manoevres, using their ammunition live
and landing craft that dump them into the Channel.
I gestate, curled as if waiting to dive,
jeeps from Detroit and cheese from Wisconsin farms,
radios, bullets, drugs and plasma arrive:
and sheds, workshops and commandeered barns
are full of supplies. Lining the country lanes
sit trucks and tanks like suddenly-sprouted berms
roofs of tin that mutter and bang in the rain.
The war in the air proceeds according to plan-
in March the Germans lost two thousand planes:
the time the Allies haul all this stuff onto land
the airforce will surely have cleared the Normandy way.
Meanwhile, tanks shoot it out on Devonshire sand.
2006 by Judith Barrington