Pointe Du Hoc

Slaughter, LA

Pilgrim at Pointe du Hoc

White Cliffs of Heaven, rising from the sea
That's how I saw them from the ship
Before we sloughed through the waves
In the Higgins Boat, rank with the smell 
Of vomit and fear; before the gate dropped
And German lead snuffed lives like so many lamps

Before we slogged through rose-colored surf
And up a littered beach to the tenored clanking
Of jacketed rounds playing the tank traps
And before I saw all hope leave that first young face
Bracketed by the iron sights of my Garrand 
A disbelief at his own mortality sparked in his eyes
And we became brothers in the fragile brevity of human flesh
As the butt stock thumped against my shoulder
Something cold and seductive brushed against my soul. 

The roar of battle was that of some beast from Revelation
Turned loose on the world, spewing smoke and fire
Stumbling forward into madness and up those heights
I found myself amid the carnage and settling calm at the top

I expect the view had once been for lovers in moonlight
Or sunlit children, their laughter ringing against the sound of the sea
Now wreckage and the random butchery of war held sway
Landing craft burned and smoldered against the leaden sea 
Bodies, once containing the image of God, 
Rocked gently in the surf, their uniforms torn and stained
Or lay among the tank traps, or closer to those white cliffs
They did not reach.

By Robert Funderburk
First published in Evening Street Review

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