The Pillboxes at Cap Ferret

Richard Holinger

Richard Holinger

The Pillboxes at Cap Ferret was selected for MSUL’s themed call for work about Water, in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum’s fall 2023 exhibition, Flint is Family in Three Acts, featuring the photography of Latoya Ruby Frazier.

From the station where the train from Paris dropped us,
we hiked to the beach and saw naked men and women
take to sand and water like newborn turtles climbing
out of nests and waddling into surf they lent themselves to
for as long as their flippers floated them safely over
the increasingly darkening depths.
                                                            We saw there, too,
the Third Reich's pillboxes, built to stave off invasion
from Allied landing forces, cold, gray, cement bunkers
built into dunes where Germans hunkered down,
their binoculars trained on the empty sea. One rounded,
pyramidal bulk looked bleak and barren as a sarcophagus.
Why "pillboxes"? I wonder, too lazy to google it,
or maybe simply not wanting to give the Nazis
the time of day to look it up.
                                                For me, a pillbox
organizes my daily meds, one week at a time,
boxed in Wake Up, Noon, Afternoon, Bedtime,
the squaring of days helping me continue
to breathe without oxygen tank or pacemaker,
the aged, doddering dolt trying to bolster his body
against invasion of heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer,
and a thousand other enemies coming for him
from across the channel under the cloak of clouds
and darkness, guns and artillery locked and loaded
to devastate and incapacitate before going ashore
in droves too overwhelming to be beaten back.

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