Late for dinner


What is this place where they tell you

they’ll hold dinner for you

because there are right whales off the lighthouse

and you have a little time.  Maybe you’ll see them.

What is this place where the broad flat sea stetches away from the

lace-rimmed rocks out to the horizon where the paler sky


The swallow tail light is as white as a virtuous woman.

The air rivals the wine left half-drunk in the glass.

The sea birds are clustered together in tremulous knowledge

of the two right whales.

They are there and sometimes I can see their plumes

white against the blue sea far off out from shore,

I wait patiently in the early evening, the breeze waiting too, gentle

on my light clad arms.

I would be glad, no, transported with joy to see them

but I know they have their own business to attend to.

Even in this place I cannot wait until dark, I cannot

keep the others waiting.  The others are of my kind

and the right whales have their own business to attend to.

Even though I could only feel them there off shore and know

as sure as sure

that they were there  attending to their right business,

well, this was enough and more than enough to transport me

to the watery depths, to the cold boundless places where the right whales

with no regard for me attend to their right business.

What kind of place is this where no bird or seal or tree or breeze or wave,

pays attention to my tender waiting?

It is the right place.

The Lighthouse


Set on some windy highland where blasted trees struggle for survival,

By definition prey to storms.  No silence here, the breath of wind and shush of wave below

Punctuated by the cries of gulls, the sighing wet breath of humpback or minke whales

and from time to time the chugging motor of a fishing boat.

The lighthouse.

Saved, restored, shored up, paid up, cabled up, held up, kept erect, alive.

But wait, isn’t that your job, lighthouse?  Standing up in all weathers, in all winds, eternally

saving, restoring to the shore puny mortals?

Of course, now there’s radar and sonar, GPS I suppose, but still,

there’s something forever about a lighthouse.

I used to lie down here in the summer grass where wild roses spread over the windy peninsula.

I’d wake to bees or crickets and follow the paths of desire over the rough ground.

I never dreamed a lighthouse would need help.

For decades in the sunny days the keeper’s wife would knit or nurse her child.

In the winter night the light, the bell, sometimes the deep fog horn would sound.

And those at sea would chart and steer a course, safe in that way at least.

The keeper tending the light in the high wind-shuddering lantern peering into

snow or darkness, knew he and the light had done the best, the best they could.

Long-gone the lighthouse keeper and his wife, long-gone the many wrecks

so must we save the lighthouse?

Is there “forever”on this rocky wreck-strewn shore?