“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.