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
I'll be born to an England that barely recognizes itself-
but in May there's the greening and lambing of glorious
At Woolston Farm the swallows still nest by the roof
the garden thrushes make pecking forays along
the newturned earth, then stop to look round and chant.
Americans came through in April, crouching and shooting
real live bullets-a full-scale experiment:
they were beached at Slapton Sands and headed inland
through Woolston's pastures to Okehampton, tired and sunburnt.
these same pastures in May, keen to abscond,
run two boys, both named John, with muddy knees,
shoving each other as friend will do with friend
Shirley and I, years later, on make-believe ponies).
"What's that?" says John the elder, grabbing
of the John who's only eight, but all the kid sees
a rabbit hole like hundreds all over the farm.
"There's something inside-look, there," the
tall one insists
and they both kneel down on the grass and peer and squirm
what kind of toy some idiot lost
that ended up here, stuck in the bend of the warren.
"I think I can reach it," the little one says,
let me try. Come on-shove over! I'll loosen
my coat and lie down: my arm is longer than yours."
So senior John, feeling the heat of the sun,
off his blazer, thrusts in his hand, and swears.
As he tugs, the anti-tank grenade goes off.
Pieces of shirt and flesh fly everywhere.
2006 by Judith Barrington