Saint Tropez

by Tim Smith-Laing

In his hand a photo of his fiancée,

this long-dead German soldier is paling

sea-white now, and his girl washes away.

 

This Heinrich or Hans missed her and she him.

For the town this is a small victory,

the drilled efficient Germans drowning

 

and their children who harvest wild chicory,

to brew make-believe coffee, will not let him be,

they throw stones at the sea, and in the heat,

 

glug-glug at German patrols in the street

play drowning soldiers with rolling eyes.

They were training and did not know the tides.

 

Coarse sand whirled up in the undertow,

has stripped his bones of their disguise,

and scoured her loving face from the photo,

 

until she is gone and his white bones lie

broken and smooth as fragments of sea-glass,

mixed with rotten iron and brass.