"In the Dark Hills" - Poems of Jan Olsen
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Baja California Information Pages

Poems of Baja California

In the Dark Hills
by Jan Olsen

High in the hills a cat blinks-out
the green light of his eyes
leaving the world to the stars
which course and set in the blackness.
Padding his quick way
through cactus and desert bush
he follows the scent of goat
along paths and crumbling edges
unfit for human feet.

Under the date palms of the village
the herd has gathered together
quieting the ringing of their bells.
Just before dawn
they will begin their daily forage
above the green waters of the bay, Agua Verde.
But for now, a villager sings acappela
in the quiet night darkness
and the cat moves along.

Having shaken the dust of his cool daytime hole,
he is alive and sleek, unlike the mangy hides
which hang as curiosities
in the pawn shops of the city.
He slips between shadows, a whisper, a dream
then pauses on an outcrop to sample the air.
Anchor lights wink in the harbor below
and a fisherman in his Panga
heads out to take shark.

In waking we sense
he has passed far above us,
hungry and quick,
a survivor, a silhouette.
Burning in the cliff face
a fire makes him wary,
flickering shadows cast for eons
on the rosy sandstone walls.

Perfuming the night
dew has woken the cactus
and the short-legged dog of the Mexican Navy
barks and barks . . . Barks and barks.
There is perhaps -
a cat in the hills -
and the chickens bear watching.

Jan Olsen
Copyright 1990-2011 Jan Olsen

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