Friday, February 17, 2006

Lady garden

A subtle retinue of spirits
watches over this place
built on a high red volcanic bubble
aeons older than the castle atop it
overlooking a valley of two rivers.

No bird sang or flew
in still early summer air
when I seemed a harmless passerby
but when I crossed the first low Roman wall
near the valley floor
an unseen crow called out
croaking warning three times.

I felt compelled to climb higher
then rested on a rough ledge
where giant black bees swarmed
skimming and bumping over me.

Finally I found
the bare memory of a footpath
past an abandoned gatehouse
into a green tiny lady's garden
tucked cool and ivy-covered
just at the stone walls' base.

A crumbling stone balcony
with fleur-de-lis newels
hemmed in wild irises
that found, from no living hand
their own straight rows

I knelt on grass long gone to seed
listened to distant tourists chatter
voices squeezed down from high ramparts
through the narrow arrow slits
unaware of this hidden place below
then heard closer whispers
hissing at me to notice
the man-made pattern
among rows of
centuries-old oak trees
invisible from anywhere but here.

I was not completely surprised
when the silent piebald cat
appeared from nowhere
dignified tail curled around front paws
and with a green unblinking stare
looked meaningfully past me
to a hidden arch in the ivy wall
wishing me well enough but
urging me to that second, more secret path
and away back to my own noisier time
before less friendly shades
found me trespassing on their quiet.

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