lighthouse_keeper.jpg

(Photo Credit: This poem was inspired by Oakland based artist John Casey‘s piece, Lighthouse Keeper, 2016  acrylic on panel  40″ x 30″.  http://www.johncasey.com)

 

She called to him

Beneath a veil of night

When summer wore

Its hottest mask

Wax and dripping

Onto the earth

Leaving sticky puddles

Drenched and drying fast.

 

 

He was ill equipped

From skin to guts

No cape in his wardrobe

Or spectacles to hide his eyes

Paralyzed

By the fear—

No not the fear—

The knowing.

 

 

Knowing that his will

To fight for love

Was vacuum packed

And wrapped in moth balls,

Wreaked of age and of

The stench of desperate attempts

And falls—

Memories of unanswered calls.

 

 

Calls for him to be the one

The victor in the storm

Brimming to capacity

With strength enough to

Hold her heart—

At least her hand

Across jagged tightropes

Stretching over pits of sand.

 

 

Quicksand questions

Lined with glue

Meant to close the chasm

Between expectation and

What is true—

Catechisms from the past

Never brought to light

Long enough

For queries to last.

 

 

What lasted was uncertainties

And now he paid the price

Not wanting to lose

Her

But unprepared to fight

All he could muster

Was a broken hero’s

Journey into night.

 

 

Night fell

Long past its time as

Summer solstice

Lazily drew its haze

Upon a sultry sky—

Like the afterglow

Of a camera’s flash

Imprinted behind the eye.

 

 

Eyes heavy with fatigue

Propped open by ambition

He pulled his jeans up high

Belted at the waist

Sat on the dew-drenched seat

Slicing through salt

Like he was a Sodomite Sculptor

Entering the competition.

 

 

A competition

Against himself

Against the doubt

Bubbling through

His tightening veins

Waking him from

Slumber of uncertainty to

Valor through adversity.

 

 

Adverse conditions

In the black

Gave way

As light he carried

Burned a path

Radiant as day—

Along the way he set it down

The dread that he had nothing to give.

 

 

He gave her a coordinate—

It was all he had—

A map written in the air

To help her find him

Approaching beneath a beacon

Brave and bright

Like a compass

More meticulous than starlight.

 

 

Starlight led her way

Across a stretch of sand

The edge of land

And water

Lapping against her skin

Deep and

Deeper still

She wandered toward the glow.

 

 

Glowing first as though a firefly

Small and far away

His vessel cutting through

The foam, mocking delay

For time no longer mattered

As slow there paths came near

He, soaked with ocean

She, doused in tears.

 

 

Her tears were anvils

From her soul

Releasing injured expectation

She felt her heaviness go—

Fly

Into the heavens

Where drafts outweighed

The currents swirling down below.

 

 

She never saw below

The hidden treasure trove

Inside his hidden space

The place

Where thought and emotion

Ruptured like burdened banks

To flood his heart and

Overflow—

 

 

Overflows of adrenaline

Like rain

Saturated and drowned his pain

Leaving only

In the boat

He and the lighthouse he kept

For her

A flame no longer detained.

 

 

No act of the Furies could detain

His passage toward her eyes

The two he knew without seeing

He could feel at the side of his neck,

Glimpse behind the pillow

Where once she lay

Inside his dreams

And in the middle of day.

 

 

The glow began to grow

He rowed like a man

Pursued by death

And she

Released a laugh

That tore his heart

From two parts into one—

He dropped the oars so he could run.

 

 

He ran to just before her

Then stopped to etch her

All

Inside his mind

Where secrets forever kept

Could burrow, rest and hide,

“I came for you,”

He said—

 

 

She already knew

But she feigned a big surprise,

“I wondered at that

single point

upon the horizon growing

never knowing

whether I should run away

or stay.”

 

 

“I am glad you stayed,”

He kicked some sand

Between his shoes

And cleared his tightening throat,

“Now that you have

would you allow

this reluctant pirate

to stay here, too?”

 

 

She blew out the candle

Burning above his face—

No need to keep it lit

Inside this place

Where journey’s end

Had come to rest—

“I never really lost you.”

“Then I was never really lost.”

 

 

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

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