‘At the beach’ comes joint first in VE Day poetry competition.

My poem, ‘At the beach,’ which was written about the Normandy landings in World War Two, has been awarded joint first prize in a VE Day poetry contest sponsored by TLE Educational Network. The contest received 26 submissions; ‘At the beach’ came joint first with “Blut Und Ehre” by Manx Wharton. Full details here.

Not only is it the first poetry competition I’ve ever won, it is also, in fact, the first poetry comeptition I’ve ever entered. All 26 entries have been published in a book available inworld (follow the link above for details).

At the beach

My body warmed by others packed tight, we sway together as we bounce
across waves, grey stones flicked from a distant shore.
Soaked by salt mist, dried by the wind;
sometimes we stumble; sometimes we touch the elbows of our friends, gently.
I think of seaside smells and try to find at least one in the air around me.
I try to find the sound of seagulls, but the birds are absent this morning.

These last few minutes of my life, I shall be certain to know them completely.
When my cheek ends up resting upon wet sand,
I will try to think of the waves washing up against my flesh
as water lapping over rocks, as it must.

The lifeguard’s whistle blows, and we are jumping, splashing, wading.
Arms raised out of the water, we hold our spades above our heads.
We charge: golden sands and a pebble bank our objective.

Then, as I know it has to, the burning enters into me.
Once, twice, three times I am punctured, like a swift rap on the door;
punched, pierced by someone distant, who moves on.
My legs stop moving and my body begins to empty itself.
Just like that, it has happened. I stumble forward, my face smacks against the sea.

These last few seconds of my life, I shall be certain to know them completely.
Water is moving backwards and forwards through my hair, and I marvel
that waves still know how to work today. I breathe blood.
I find another to look at, we lock gazes for a few final seconds.
Our blood mixes in the waters between us.
I try to find the sound of seagulls, but the birds are absent this morning.

© Huckleberry Hax 2009

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One comment

  1. […] In 2008, I spent a week on holiday just outside of Bernières-sur-mer, the seafront of which forms part of Juno Beach, the Canadian landing point on D-Day 70 years ago today.  During that time, I also visited Sword and Gold, the British landing points, and Omaha, one of the two American beaches (and the bloodiest).  My visit to the latter of these in particular led me to making my first real attempt at writing poetry, ‘At the beach’, which you can read here. […]

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