Annapolis Poem

“The William Paca Garden is a two acre oasis of natural beauty in the bustling center of Annapolis’ Historic District.  Although many colonial Annapolitans had gardens, only Paca’s has been returned to its original splendor and opened to the public.  Intrigued by garden details in the background of Charles Willson Peale’s 1772 portrait of Paca, researchers were able to reconstruct the site from a series of archeological digs that turned up evidence of the garden’s former glory.”
-from the Historic Annapolis site:


Ruth Johnston







In Paca Garden, walled and dry
they built the Old World in the New,
and there walked girl and woman, I
with man and boy (remember?), you.

As if to keep all life at bay
and shut our eyes to hear a story
we dressed the truth in solemn play:
my quiet house of ancient glory,

linen and tea; your Russian home,
the dying count, a summons back
Were those bricked streets our sunny Rome,
or Paris?  You spotted in a crack

a flash of gold; I wore it round
my neck for days.  You wondered why
I prized the broken chain you found;
you feared and could not meet my eye.

We played pretend, but much came true:
our Old World gave us the refrain,
with words dictated by the New.
I have, but never wear, the chain.

Like faery queen and knight of old
we lingered in determined bliss:
a string of nonsense, trampled gold,
a small thing, but too bright to miss.

©Ruth Johnston, 2016

Ruth Johnston is a writer. See her work at

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