WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE LIGHTHOUSE

We always lived in the lighthouse.

Where my daddy was the lighthouse keeper,

And though times were tough

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 lobster a-plenty

And even had seafood for breakfast.

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 this 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 they no longer would need

A lighthouse keeper,

Because the lighthouses were “going electric”.

**

We didn’t quite 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,

To a farm in a town in Missouri,

Where my grammy and grandpa lived

And where mama came from,

And sometimes said she never planned to go back to,

But here was plenty to eat and milk to drink from the cow,

So baby and I never went hungry,

But you know, they never

Had clams or shrimp or oysters or lobster,

Out here in Missouri,

Only beef and pork.

I never did learn if daddy

Had thought of something.

We never saw him again.

**

For Becky, because we loved lighthouses.—Sandra Lee Smith

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted April 19, 2009

Updated October 20, 2018

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