A walk along the Camino de Santiago: A poem

A walk along
the Camino de Santiago

Sliding down mountains on slippery mud paths
Walking through hills of rocks, grapes, and flowers
Climbing over craggy, windswept ridges
Crossing wide plains ripe with spring's green wheat
A pilgrim walks to St. James' grave.

Shivering in early morning fog
Dripping from a momentary mid-day drizzle
Enduring the heat of afternoon scorching sun
Rejoicing over an early evening breeze
A pilgrim walks to St. James' grave.

Walking into shadow many mornings over
Washing feet in cool stream waters
Sleeping under trees in afternoons' weary phases
Resting painful feet at the days' final stop
A pilgrim walks to a St. James' grave.

Stopping in morning for coffee and tortilla
Crowding nightly in pilgrims' hostels
Partying long on a refugio patio
Walking with another reflecting on life
A pilgrim walks to a box of bones.

Spotting storks' nests perched on chimneys and spires
Listening to lonely cuckoos calling from far trees
Hypnotized by wolf's deep knowing eyes
Accustomed to dogs' unending barks
A pilgrim treads on to a box of bones.

Climbing to the top of the Mount of Joy
Seeing St. James' cathedral afar
Walking with tears those last few miles
Entering the crypt of James' final rest
A pilgrim has reached the box of bones.

Five hundred miles step by step
To a box of bones?
To a city of tourist kiosks?
To an ecclesiastical carnival?
A pilgrim walks to a box of bones?

Following yellow arrows from far to the east
Talking late hours of problems great and small
Discussing life’s meanings over cups of coffee
Knowing Santiago's cathedral could not be the end
A pilgrim seeks more than this box of bones.

Hearing the sea beckon from the west
Leaving the chaos of commercial quest
Walking again the rocky road
Responding to a pull to reach land's end
A pilgrim answers the call of the sea.

Seeing the deep blue Atlantic on the horizon
Sitting on a rock to pull it all together
Praying at a simple shrine of Celtic origin
Losing a friend with only one day left
A pilgrim answers the call of the sea.

Setting out alone on that fortieth day
Absorbed in a tranquil walk down a lane
Spotting a salute from upheld stick
Happy again at friends' unexpected return
A pilgrim joyfully continues to the sea.

Walking barefoot on beach's wet edge
Resting in a bar to put off the end
Sharing a meal of the sea's best fruit
Walking finally to rocky Atlantic coast
A pilgrim has answered the call of the sea.

Standing before the source and end of life
Pronouncing Camino and former lives done
Celebrating new life begun just then
Embracing and wishing each other well
A pilgrim has answered the call of the sea.

Resting on rocks as new life begins
Burning socks in closing ceremony
Witnessing sun close the day
Weeping silently as new friends go away
A life is over and another begun.

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Copyright © 2003 Mike Metras, www.WorksAndWords.com