"Omaha Beach"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Nov. 18 2008 8:43 AM

"Omaha Beach"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Piotr Florczyk read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

Returning here, it hasn't been easy
for them to find their place in the black sand—
always too much sun or rain,
strangers driving umbrellas yet deeper

into their land. The young radio host said so,
speaking of the vets. When the sea had come,
some curled up inside the shells;
others flexed and clicked their knuckles

on the trigger of each wave, forgetting
to come up for breath. Then as now, there was
no such a thing as fin-clapping fish,
quipped the host—his voice no more than

an umlaut going off the air. But he didn't
give us a name at the start or the end.
Nor did he explain how to rebury a pair of
big toes jutting out from the mud

at the water's edge. In the end, it's a fluke.
A beach ball gets lost. And a search
party leads us under the pier, into the frothy sea
impaling empty bottles on the rocks.

Originally from Kraków, Poland, Piotr Florczyk is a poet and translator currently residing in Delaware. His book of translated poetry of Julian Kornhauser, an acclaimed Polish poet and critic, is forthcoming in April 2009.