Saturday, June 7, 2014

D-Day Tribute by Lorine Parks

By Lorine Parks
D day the deep sob

ici Londres London calling
invasion forces are massed but where will they land
rumors the German High Command
is told by a double agent embedded in London
expect near St.-Lo
but the Wehrmacht’s bet is Dunkerque the logical place
Rommel goes home for his wife’s birthday
von Runstedt turns his back on Falaise and looks north

St.-Lo after four years of Nazi oppression France is hot
in cellars and small backyard sheds
pitchforks are stored and scythes honed
sledge hammers stand handle up on dirt floors which faintly suggest
cider and summer moths and burlap and twine
tonight bicyclettes upside down pedals spinning
generate just enough power to receive if it comes
the signal
ici Londres London calling

the weather turns sour bombardments of rain
armada moon lost in salvos of rain

waiting grizzled old men the rest have been shot
or conscripted or shipped to German prison camps
farm girls and grand’meres work the fields
and care for the brindled dairy cows
bossies with upthrust horns like crescent crowns
languorous beasts whose sweet and primrose-hued milk
chalky and thin in the pail dilute in the churn

on the granite cross in the small village place
see the family names chiseled in gold
husbands and sons morts pour la Patrie
Yves dead first a cadet at Saumur
Jean-Luc with the Free French in Afrique
Mich’ escaped for a while to the underground maquis
the second line of a poem when it comes is the signal
the line will follow the first one
given days ago the deep sobs les sanglots longs des violons sobbing violins
every school child for seventy years has been made to learn this poem
the second line when it comes blessent mon coeur
refer to a wound heart not a blessèd state of grace
the broken couplet made whole
in the vast night hear the deep sob grow

1 comment:

  1. St. Lo was one of the key cities to the opening of the Falaise Gap, ultimately allowing the Allies to expel German forces from northern France. The German army occupied the town on 17 June 1940. Being a strategic crossroads, Saint-Lô was almost totally destroyed (95% according to common estimates) during the Battle of Normandy in World War II, earning the title of "The Capital of the Ruins" from Samuel Beckett; it was even questioned whether to rebuild it or to leave the ruins intact as a testimony to the bombing. One American soldier laconically commented: "We sure liberated the hell out of this place". The name "Saint-Lô", known since the 8th century, originated from Saint Laud, bishop of Coutances in 525–565, who had a residence there. According to tradition, the town received a new line of walls from Charlemagne in the early 9th century. It was sacked by the Vikings in 890. Later it flourished under the bishop Geffroy de Montbray, who built a bridge and some mills there.