WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE LIGHTHOUSE

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

For supper,

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

The lighthouse.

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

Of something,

We never saw him again.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

March 17, 2010

For Becky because we both loved lighthouses

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