by David Hare
She drove me to Trouville in her black Volkswagen droptop
Leaving Paris early by the Peripherique and getting there by noon
There was frost even on the inside of the slanted back window
And the laughable so-called heater pretty soon
Gave out. The tyres rocked on the brittle brown concrete.
The car shook. The frozen air thickened like a knife,
Pellucid, and we left a trail of hot breath through Northern France.
As we travelled I thought “New life.”
New life. Deauville went by, with its curious timbered medieval
Travesty of a hotel. Thank God we’re not lunching there.
We prefer to head for white-tiled, cheap and cheerful,
A neon-lit, salty lunch at Les Vapeurs where
Our idea of what is good, pithy little peppered shrimp and oysters,
Dredged from the bed, sole, chips, beer, coincided. “Oh this is what she likes.”
The mud-brown beach stretching away beyond
And the silver sea motionless, trapped, unchanging, painted; estuaries, dykes
Small boats, dredgers, abandoned, the weather
Too raw for anyone, however calloused by experience, to pass red hands over rope.
This is the place, bracing then, where I find what it turns out I’ve been looking for,
By the sand, by the water, the what-you-don’t-even-know-you’re-missing: hope.
Originally appeared in The Guardian (December 7, 2012).
PHOTO: Sunset over the cities of Deauville and Trouville-Sur-Mer in the Normandy Region, Northern France. Photo by Pascalkfl, used by permission.
NOTE: Trouville-sur-Mer is seaside resort and port in Northern France, about 300 miles from London, England, and two miles from Deauville-les-Bains. Wooded hills above Trouville give way to a magnificent sandy beach and yield picturesque views of the twin towns. Near the beach is a casino, with a theatre and a local history museum. The combined towns are among the most frequented French resorts on the English Channel.
PHOTO: Les Vapeurs, Trouville-Sur-Mer, France, the restaurant mentioned in the poem. Photo by Philippe Halle, used by permission.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Hare is a British playwright, screenwriter, and theatre and film director. He received Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for writing The Hours in 2002 and The Reader in 2008. London West End productions of his plays include Plenty (1978), Racing Demon (1990), Skylight (1997), and Amy’s View (1998). The four plays ran on Broadway, earning Hare three Tony Award nominations for Best Play and two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best New Play. His recent television projects include the BBC productions Collateral (2018) and Roadkill (2020). In 2010, Hare started writing poetry for his own pleasure, occasionally reading a poem aloud to mark celebrations. When he turned 70 on June 5, 2017, he decided to give himself a birthday present: the private publication, for friends only, of his selected poetry, under the title December 1991 and Other Poems. Hare was knighted in 1998, and his memoir, The Blue Touch Paper, was published in 2015. He recently recovered from Covid-19, and wrote about the experience in theater piece featuring Ralph Fiennes, Beat the Devil: A Covid Monologue, that ran from August 27-October 31, 2020 at The Bridge Theatre, London. The Guardian reviewer said, “Hare’s illness brings terrors but it is also transformative. ‘I’m so glad to be alive,’ he says, and we glimpse a man…who has gone through delirium and despair and come out the other side empathetic, grateful, changed.” The monologue is available in book form at Amazon.com.
Author photo by Peter Burnett, used by permission.