© 2006 Patricia Jane St. John Danko

The Garita

The Guard House


Wake up, my love!  Let´s go to the guard house.

Let´s go and play our wits against the elements

and ghosts that haunt that place.

Wake up!  Put on your rubber boots, your gloves,

your scarf, your quilted jacket.

This time we won´t get lost,

left and up the mountain on the old lumber road,

and when our tires begin to spin,

we´ll brave the mountain mud and mist on foot.

We´ll hike and climb, and where the path forks into four,

we´ll take the middle left, to deeper woods,

our guide the sunlit rays that pierce the gothic eucaliptus,

to make the winter ferns more golden,

and line the berry bushes, dense and shoulder-high, with silver;

then out of breath we´ll sit a while on ancient black Galician stones,

convulsed through her volcanic pores in some primordial sauna.


And then we´ll march, and match the woodland songs

with the colors of their singers´ feathers,

we´ll dally with the tracks of mountain goats and horses,

wild boars, roe deer, and foxes;

then suddenly we´ll find the clearing,

thickly carpeted with fallen neetles

from those majestic, unexpected pines amid the eucaliptus forest.

We´ll step into that startling glade, rimmed by giant grouse

still flaxen with its honeyed winter blooms,

the  bush the Celts called sacred for its lacerating thorns;

and in the heart of this enchanted place,

where druids of today still leave their magic circles on the ground,

that stony cabin yielded to us.


We´ll enter sentry chambers silently, in awe,

and breathe the musk, and watch our step

to spare the tiny toadstool hats, bright red and yellow-orange,

 minute jewels that crown the lattice of the humid straw.

We´ll post our watch at the window to the sea,

and be the sentinels,

on guard against the hostile navies of the English, Turks, and Berbers

that ages past despoiled and terrified our coast.

Then suddenly you´ll whisper, “Pirates coming!

They fly the jolly roger!

Quickly!  Douse that candle!”

“Send a rider to the town.  Bar and bolt the gates.

Stuff and load the cannons!”

And with our giggles muffled, so that no corsair marks us,

we´ll tiptoe to the back room, free from windows to betray us;

we´ll feel the fire, and stir the kettle,

and taste the soup we made

from savory meat of mountain goats or boars.


We´ll talk to spooks of shepherds past, and wraiths still hiding from the war

of battle-spattered bloodlines, of brothers killing brothers,

the war that tossed our poetry into an unmarked grave,

the war whose soldiers barely knew what they were fighting for.


We´ll follow footpaths to the rock cliff´s rim,

we´ll contemplate the sea to its horizon,

and scamper on the rocks and brave the edge;

and spread our arms like wings

to lean against the wind in giddy play with fate,

then running down the path take refuge once again

in the guard house.



And when gray blankets form the sky

and give soft rumbles, unpretentious as this sanctuary,

like cat-souls purring, to call us to our fireplace, and supper

we´ll wander down the mountain path,

and find our car,

and wistfully go home

and leave the guard  house.

Previous: ' Mockingbird '

Next: ' No Fiery, Bloody Phoenix '


© 2006 Patricia Jane St. John Danko

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