We have always lived in the lighthouse,
Where my Daddy was the lighthouse keeper,
And though times were rough,
And we didn’t have any close-by neighbors,
There was always enough to eat,
For Daddy was a fisherman too,
And could catch something for mama to fry
To go with cornbread muffins.
We had clams and shrimp and oysters
And even lobsters a-plenty
And even had seafood for breakfast, sometimes.
It was Daddy’s job to light the lanterns
At the top of the lighthouse
Where the Fresnel lens reflected the lantern light
And made it brighter and stronger,
Able to reach far out on the ocean.
My Daddy took his job seriously
And we were a happy little family,
Living in the little house alongside
Until one day, someone
From the coast guard
Came to visit Daddy
And said that they no longer would need
A lighthouse keeper,
Because the lighthouses were going electric.
We didn’t know what this meant, “going Electric”
But we understood that Daddy no longer had a job.
Mama cried and I cried and baby brother cried too,
But baby didn’t know why; he just cried because
We were crying.
Daddy said “Now mama, don’t you fret. I’ll think
Of something”–but you know, times were bad
And jobs were hard to come by.
Eventually, mama took baby and me and
We got on a bus that took us a long ways away
From the sea,
To a farm in a town in Missouri
Where my grammy and grandpa lived and
And where my mama came from.
And sometimes said she never planned
to go back there,
But there was plenty to eat,
And plenty of milk from the cow,
and eggs from the chickens
So baby and I never went hungry,
But, you know, they never had clams or
Shrimp or oysters or lobster,
Out there in Missouri,
Only beef and pork and chicken.
I never did learn if Daddy had thought
We never saw him again.
Sandra Lee Smith
March 17, 2010
For Becky because we both loved lighthouses