Under the Lighthouse
read by nic sebastian
Her childhood headlands held a bay like glass,
Commanded by a pleasant house and tower
Of eaves and brick and sea-patinaed brass,
Whose beacon seemed to shine with kindly power.
Lighthouses lost a couple of their gables
When she discovered that they worked like clocks,
Their lamps revolved by counterweights and cables
That ran, grandfather-wise, from top to ground,
Where souls at sea might founder on the rocks
If tenders let the houses come unwound.
A keeper couldn’t sleep on-shift at night,
Although that rule was often circumvented
By napping underneath the lead half-ton
That lowered slowly from beneath the light,
Then when you felt its pressure on your chest
You scrambled up, rewound, refueled, and tended
To all the work still needing to be done
And so, in fits and starts, you got your rest.
She kept her memories of amber beams,
Although they seemed to dim once she awoke
To oceans of responsibilities.
And now, for her, the night-tossed seas evoke
Only a figure– prone, uncomprehending,
Exhausted– thieving sleep, but caught by dreams
Of plaintive cries and dark catastrophes
And always from above, a weight, descending.
© Jenna Black
Frank Osen's work has appeared in Measure, POOL, Light Quarterly, Pivot, Blue Unicorn, 14 by 14, and The Wallace Stevens Journal. This year he was a runner-up for the Morton Marr poetry award; he also won the 2008 Best American Poetry Series poem challenge. He was a finalist in the 2006 Nemerov sonnet competition.