Born In War (from "After D-Day")

by Judith Barrington

[ShatterColors is pleased to present the first five parts of Judith Barrington's narrative poem After D-Day. Click for numbers: One, Two, Three, Four, Five.]

...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

Number 2

October, the little joining that is my conception
happens-I don't know how or where or why-
like most of us I make my own assumptions-

but happen it does and the timing will signify
that I gestate alongside invasion plans.
Code names like ROUNDUP and TRIDENT multiply

until OVERLORD takes over. The jargon jams
as boffins try hard to fool the enemy nations
but often confuse both spies and partisans.

The first of May is set for the embarkation
of allied troops to France. The plan is streamlined-
a gleam in many men's eyes, this expedition

they lust for, especially when they're reminded
of losses suffered at Dunkirk and then at Pearl
Harbor. Though many declare the scheme is hairbrained

we gestate-I in the womb and the great plan unfurling
to show not the millions we know it will kill
but a glamorous army, strutting like a showgirl

into the crushing embrace of the murder mill.
The weather, supplies, transportation-all are snarled
and D-Day slips back to the fifth of June. Meanwhile

my budding fingers and toes uncurl
preparing for birth; my mother is clenched with the tension
and nothing is quiet, not even in my small world.

© 2006 by Judith Barrington


About the Author

Judith Barrington grew up in Brighton, England, and has lived in Oregon, U.S. since 1976. Her poetry collections are: Horses and the Human Soul, History and Geography, and Trying to be an Honest Woman.

Lifesaving: A Memoir won the 2001 Lambda Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, an ongoing best seller, is used in M.F.A. programs across the US and in Australia. Her work appears in numerous journals. and she has taught at conferences including Split Rock, Haystack, Port Townsend Writers' Conference, Katchemak Bay Writers' Conference, The Arvon Foundation, and The London Poetry School. She co-founded The Flight of the Mind Writing Workshops in Oregon, where she taught from 1983 to 2000.


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