“Was it hell to build?” I ask.
“The lash, the ox, the muscles straining
To forge this invincible fortress?
Tell me your story El Morro.
I come from a land
Under a different sun and
Have not heard your name before.”

I perch on the parapet of its giant wall
As an osprey and egret fly overhead.
A pelican plunges into the sea
And a mottled cat stalks a lizard.

El Morro answers:
“Climb closer and see.
The walls are wide.
You will not fall.
Take off your shoes and
Let your feet free.
I am El Morro. An old man
Who loves to play.
In my youth I controlled blood-red seas
Through whips, shackles, and tumbrel rides.
But five hundred years later
The sea changed and I was released
From combat to rest.
Now the sea is brilliant teal
Edged with a white confetti
Tossed by the waves as they
Crash onto the rocks.
That crash is our only violence now.
I’ve lost my white walls.
Ferns grow in cracks
Where no ferns should grow.
And under the moonlight
The only sentries now are lovers.
They come two by two to kiss.
The heat of their embrace
Warms my walls every night.
Together we smile by the sea.
Oh young child,
Lend me your innocence
And I’ll give you my strength.
You cannot stand in a place
I didn’t touch first.
You will not catch trade winds
If I do not let you pass.
But with my blessing,
You’ll face the sea dogs
With fortes and fresh water.
My eyes will watch you, and
My breath will fill your sail,
As you bob in your boat,
Beyond the curve of the earth.
Child
Feel El Morro beneath you.
Sense El Morro behind you.
See El Morro above you.
Let El Morro surround you.
Climb closer and see what
Lovers carved on me
One night by moon:
‘Te Adoro.
I love you fer evah.’

(c) Allegra Jordan, 2014.