On Slapton Sands

by John Stocks


We came to scour the beach by twilight
And dream the GI’s whispered curses
When the sea exhaled
A hundred corpses
Pale as a winter moon.

By the light of our torches
The vessels of the nowhere known
The kids who died
Rolling in on the Ocean’s spume
A crimson tide.

And God knows where they buried them
The six hundred and thirty-eight
A placeless place beyond the sand
Deep as hell to hide their faces.

A pebble for each salt-kissed soul
Smoothed by the Ocean’s roll
A pebble for each exiled son
Of Boston, Brooklyn, Wisconsin.

No shadows in the sunset
No footprints in the sand
A wild west wind
And the dead hand
Of infinite war
(Wherever and whenever;
The bodies lap the shore.)


Copyright © 2008 by John Stocks

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