We Have Traveled Here
Le Tréport de la Mer, Normandie
by Andrena Zawinski
All along the line these villages blossom
with poppies, sheep and ponies graze
backyards, the cows are down for rain.
And a couple poses tied up in lacy bows
among the jonquil and nasturtium
for photographers on their wedding day
as we near the northerly reaches
of Normandie, stark cabanas locked down
from a fickle fleet of wind moving in.
It is almost sundown, almost August.
A woman pushes a broom through
our train car, second class, in half-light.
She smiles at our French affectations
as you kiss me on a train, making our way
away from Paris. All along the noisy rails,
leggy geraniums stretch red and weedy
at lazy sills outside the city limits,
sleepy windows shuttered from light.
At Le Tréport de la Mer, waves collide,
wind whips the northern night, the two of us
bundled together by arms, intoxicated
in the unseasonable chill, the exhaustion
of a day spent well walking a rocky length
of coast, climbing hills to a sun-bleached cliff
where Hugo once stopped at Le Calvaire
and Baudelaire wrote pour les morts,
les pauvres morts, where what we have seen
survives enemy boats and artillery fire
across the wild lavender, Germans perched,
hungry crows cawing at the Atlantic wall.
Such a gray light midsummer. So dark
the waters here where we have traveled
half the day to be, to sniff out fish
hungry for a meal, gulls raspy on the somber
sweep of sky, icy waves racing the harbor
we watch from our coastal landing,
from our turret room where we sink down
into a bed fat with feathers and frills,
turn off the light. As if we have waited
our lives for this, we pull in close to each other,
bloom in the extravagance of France, learn
the simple lessons of love, our hearts
memorizing them even as we dream.
For what else then can we long? For now,
curled into each other, we can call this home.
Previously published in Switched on Gutenberg; Milton Acorn Prize winner.
PHOTO: Le Tréport, Normandy, France. Photo by Alain Wacquier, used by permission.
NOTE: Le Tréport is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in Normandy, France. The mouth of the Bresle river meets the English Channel here, in between the 360-foot-high chalk cliffs and the pebbly beach. Le Tréport is also a seaside resort and home to a casino. During World War II, the town was liberated by the 3rd Canadian Division on September 1, 1944. Le Tréport was used as the location for the 2014 French police thriller Witnesses (“Les témoins”).
PHOTO: Chalk cliffs and beach, Le Tréport, Normandy, France. Photo by Benh Lieu Song, used by permission.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrena Zawinski’s poetry has received numerous awards for lyricism, form, spirituality, and social concern, several of them Pushcart Prize nominations. Her latest book is Landings from Kelsay Books; others are Something About from Blue Light Press (a PEN Oakland Award) and Traveling in Reflected Light from Pig Iron Press (a Kenneth Patchen Prize), along with several chapbooks. Her poetry has previously appeared on Poetry and Places.