The Spanish built fort walls from coquina—
a compound so accommodating that cannonballs
were swallowed inward, became fossils of
foreign tongues and other kingdoms’ missives.
Five hundred years later, dolphins slipstitch
the same blue bay, and tourists meander nearby
cobblestone streets named for venturers who left
their bones beneath whipping shadows of flags
hoisted blindly across oceans. Gold, tinder
for the fire stoked by this siren song of coastline.
We buy homemade soap, candles, and sangria,
find moon shells and angel wings on the beach,
have our photos taken with pirates. This oldest
city is full of spirits; ale and song. All night long,
the ocean keens and thrashes. The Timucua,
runaway African slaves, settlers from France,
Spain, Greece, tycoons and tyrants, all
once held captive by this same indifferent
edge. A college kid with tarot cards dares us:
prepare to be amazed. The narrow sky between
courtyard walls is layered in strands of stars.
The current soft against the hulls of boats,
the revelers and the venders, the keepers
of secrets— these old stones, bearing scars
of hurricanes and hunger, the wallop of
magenta in the wild bougainvillea, audacious
come morning, when the drunks and the ghosts
rise again, blinking back the light.