Strange shadows on these coral walls
stay hidden from the setting sun,
yet creeping through the shafts of amber light
drag behind them to the high parapet
a cloak of utter darkness.
Fierce defended, now are none:
no frightened men to urge the heavy cannon round
no shrill alarm or battle cries;
the end of this, as every other day has sealed
a silence now complete.
Once we held here, on this foreign shore,
the fortress of our childhood dreams
and all the world’s assaults
seemed nothing then;
an ocean breeze would cool the hurt of falling
and bring sweet scents to pick us up again.
Across the bay the dhows set sail upon a rising tide
their canvass spread against the purple sky.
We watched their leaving long ago
but you are gone away now, gone to sleep
and no injured soul so left alone
can wait to watch them home again.
Yet I will stand, a little or a while,
and will not fear cold shadows rising
nor while breathing yield the fort to them;
in every breach I meet your laughing eyes
and feel the warming of remembered suns.