29 July 2019

Vamos a la playa

—— 1 ——

Thirty years ago
old men and old women with flabby wrinkled skin
would sit down on the beach, looking afar.
The forty-year olds of yesterday
are the seventy-year olds of today.
Same socks in sandals,
same flower-motif blouses,
same fat bellies,
same scruffy white hair,
same plastic chairs they sit on.
Nothing has changed.

Does one lose a sense of self-awareness as one gets old?
Or they just don't care anymore, they're not here to impress anyone anymore?
Or perhaps they never cared.

Age 10, I was wondering if one's personality, one's "brain" dramatically evolved over time
I was sitting on the passenger seat right behind the driver’s seat
My father was driving along Battersea Park in London
I scared myself that some magic spell would invert our positions, our minds
that I would suddenly become my father and he would become me
I scared myself because he was not a good man, to say the least
I stopped thinking about what would happen to my brain over time
I didn't want to become like my father.

—— 2 ——

Rainbow bubbles on quartz
Exploding in silence
Exploding into nothingness

Ebb and flow of the ocean
Yikes the water feels cold
Then my feet get adjusted
The soft sensation of sea foam reaching my ankles

Twenty years ago, we had dubbed him the Ethiopian.
It was well before the so-called waves of migrants
He was perhaps not African at all, it doesn't matter
Every day he would be walking on the beach
Skinny muscular legs, backpack, man or woman it was hard to distinguish
Twenty or forty years old, it was difficult to tell
Every day she would be walking from right to left
It made us children laugh, it was as if she were crossing the Sahara
Walking dozens dozens dozens of kilometres
And every day she would be walking from right to left
I don’t remember seeing her go the other way

—— 3 ——

The public beach, a landmark for the uneducated and for the poor
Almost naked, one would think we would all be the same
But that’s not true.
Fat parents, overweight children
Bellowing fathers, screaming toddlers
Smoking in my face, walking their unleashed smelly dogs

Family time
Most often grandparents stuck with their grandchildren
whose parents got rid of for the summer
Good riddance or missing them, who knows

What an arrogant fake hipster, you may think
Maybe not
I actually have sympathy
I tend to want to help
I see their potential to improve
Would they want it enough though
Why bother when time is finite.

—— 4 ——

Little pigs
Elephant legs
Chinese hats
All names given to shells found on the beach
When the ocean would ebb away

Rocks rolled and rolled onto the ocean floor
Year after year they moved closer, farther away,
Right, left
Swung about, aimlessly
Like pink pigs and grey elephants

—— 5 ——

“Exceptional”, “tonight only”, “just 1 euro per attraction”
Raving advertising on lamp posts
and in the sky, attached to tiny propeller planes
Horse races, fun fairs, heck even brioche
Everyone looks up stupidly
I look up stupidly

It’s a circus

The roaming circuses themselves have not changed since the 80s
I fall for this antique charm every time
Memories of years past
The impression that time has paused
I fall for this illusion
I need this chimera

—— 6 ——

The Germans were here
They didn’t build sand castles
nor futile sand barriers
The Germans built a Wall
they didn’t want to be invaded, the irony
Fascists are always worried about being invaded
The Germans built the Atlantic Wall
Bunkers sprinkled along the French coast
Graffiti-riddled concrete ectoplasms on top of dunes

—— 7 ——

My grandparents actively resisted against the Germans
Not here along the coast but further north east
It wasn’t a game

I always invented games
Throwing a frisbee far away for my little nephews to collect
like one throws a stick for a dog to fetch
I love my nephews
I don’t own a dog
I never did
I never will
Never say never goes the truism

Summer would rhyme with the Tour de France
and the ever so annoying doped Lance Armstrong and his crew
Every now and then it would be the Olympics
or athletics championships
Olympic games on the beach
Pétanque, tennis football, rackets, you name it
I competed in my own ways

Nationalistic pride
defending “our” champions
How inept, misplaced
As if it made any difference

—— 8 ——

A bucket of water put outside in the minuscule garden
to heat up during the day
to be used to clean our sandy feet upon our return from the beach

Questions for a Champion, a trivia game on TV
my grandparents would never miss every evening
I hear their voices today but it’s not them
It’s the neighbours who are now seventy themselves

A red sunset meant it would be clear skies the next day
my grandparents claimed
A myth

In August we would look up at the stars
shooting stars
I always forgot to make wishes

PS: loosely inspired from the original writing style of Joseph Ponthus in A la ligne.