I hate the beach

I hate the beach
I’m eighty six and I hate the beach
Hate the sand, not a fan of the surf
Face it, I hate the beach
Last time I went there
I had just turned 18 years old
June sixth, Nineteen Hundred Forty Four
God, I hate the beach
I was in the 5th Regiment
Régiment de Maisonneuve
and I’ve never been to a beach since
I’m from Verdun, Quebec, Canada
Not many beaches around there
Thank the lord for that I say
We’d been training for six months
Operation Overlord it was called
We were coming in on troop carriers
It was to be a beach head landing
I’d never seen a beach before
At least not for real
Never want to see another
We arrived early June 6, 1944
I think I said that already
You must forgive me,
I’m 86 years old and I hate the beach
fourteen thousand Canadian Troops
Bursting out of armoured troop ships
Like, the young, virile, brahma bulls we were
Coming in, all I could hear was the waves
I was in front, well…close to the front
I remember, there were no birds
who ever heard of that?
A beach with no birds
At least not at this beach
I could smell the salt in the air
And I knew I could hear the surf
And my heart, I could damn well hear that
But, no birds, I couldn’t hear the birds
Gunfire, nope…cannons and mortars
But birds and guns, not a sound
Weird huh?
I remember running forward
Always forward, past blocks
Wood barricades and barbed wire
And bodies, lots of bodies
I knew that I knew some of them
I just didn’t have time to stop
And say goodbye,
I just ran
Emptied my weapon at least once
I only know this, because it was empty
when I hit the beach
God, I hate the beach
You know in the movies
or in those flowery books
where they talk about someone being shot
and how “there was a bloom or
they’re chest flowered red where they were hit”
I never saw that, never looked back
Just ran forward, saw the “bloom” in their backs
Don’t like red, or flowers or the beach
I don’t remember much after that
Could still hear my heart
That’s a good thing, I guess
I got tore up good with the wire
but I never got shot
Never, “bloomed” for anyone
A few of my buddies were lost
I toast them every year
Never at the beach though
I hate the beach
Wife and kids used to go
I never did, never will
I remember the 50th anniversary though
Wife and kids went back
Not me,
Went into Montreal to see a ball game
Montreal Expos 10, Houston Astros 5
I remember Will Cordero hitting a homer
It was the sixth inning, I toasted the hit
I thought about that day 50 years before
And went back to watching the game
I hate the beach
My name is Gilles Roquefort
I’m eighty six years old
And I can still feel the sand and taste the salt
On a bad day.
Dedicated to those who landed in Normandy, June 6, 1944. Living or dead, we will remember.

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