Gold Beach

by Jack Cooper

after Keith Douglas

The landers spat us to the sand like seeds,
and the Germans – secure in concrete barrows –
watched an army grow towards them.
When shells hit, I saw limbs attached to nothing
but the memory of movement.
We walked on whatever was underfoot.

Soon we were flame through red phosphorus,
consuming the cliffs and their emplacements.
We had a task, and the tools to do it.

Look – men at prayer, a chaplain at his altar –
the bonnet of a Jeep, tarp its corporal cloth.
Mass over, he makes his way to the many dead,
gives them his blessing: ashes to ashes, etc.

Cordite hanging thick as incense, we march on Bayeux.
War waits for us with a piece of shrapnel for every man.