Friday, August 30, 2013

PEMBROKE PILGRIMAGE: DAY 4

Coastal Path follows edge of
Incredibly sheer cliffs plunging
To the sea in cascades of 
Shimmering textured colors:
Deep purplish-charcoaled rock faces,
Lighter purple and gold heathers,
Green carpets of velvet grass.

Spiky gorse, prickly blackberry 
vines, and hearty ferns form
psychological barriers between
hikers and 90-degree precipices
Merely inches away. Occasional 
Glimpses cause breath-holding
Confrontation of imminent danger 
As well as exhilarating viewpoints
of exquisite beauty beyond
Comprehension or integration.

Simple white acorn siloettes suffice 
As fence post directional markers, 
In contrast to El Camino scallop shells 
and yellow arrows, both in variety of
Permutations and localized design.
B&B host's advice, repeated by cabby:
"Always keep the water on your right."

As gaze rivets on extraordinary view,
Sweating palms attempt to keep
Tight grip on walking sticks to
Steady balance while morbid
Mind has fleeting images of tilting 
To starboard, tumbling to the sea.

Day 4, lack of hedges indicate
Nature and God's confidence in
Hiker's increased courage, prowess,
and ability to stay upright while 
simultaneously seeing heart-stopping 
Beauty and close proximity of
Immediately-descending cliffs.

One-person-wide paths chiseled into 
Cliff surfaces, sometimes even narrower, 
Requiring one-foot-In-front-of-the-other gait,
Like high-fashion models on runways;
Hiking boots stomping down the path
Rather than 9-inch platform heels;
Scrubbed, tanned faces, broad smiles
Rather than dramatic make-up, blank stares.

Embedded in path, vertical slices of 
black or medium blue slate stacked like 
Pieces of breakfast bread in toast rack.
Huge boulders sprinkled by ancient giants
Provide benches for changing socks at
Regular intervals. As trail approached
Huge white sanded beach, more people
On afternoon strolls, path fluctuated and
Sometimes disappeared into meadow.

Last turn of the day around St. David's Head
Results in leaving familiar lighthouse
Landmark behind: Strumble Head Light
Had offered almost five days of comfort, 
A touchstone for start point and for progress.

After usual latte and hot chocolate treat,
Call for taxi for transport to St. David's
Coach House B&B. Vespers at 6 pm in 
Small chapel in huge St. David's 
Cathedral. Immediate tears at organ's 
First notes, soon followed by visiting
Caimbridge choirs' piercing tones.

Small dinner at local pub, working on
iPad updates and writing, long sleep,
Nourishing breakfast, repacking
Backpacks, and off to final day's walk.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 30, 2013

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