The Point Reyes Lighthouse


The ranger is pulling the circular curtain
The demonstration is at an end
Beam by beam, the lighthouse begins
To swallow shafts of light,
24, 23, 22 …
Until only a couple remain.

Beyond a window of the illuminated cylinder
The ranger lingers awhile
Pronouncing the sentence
Of a once-lighthouse, now a museum piece
With but a few moments
Of phosphorescent mist.

All is dark again and cold and damp
But I am glad of the thick fog,
Glad of light and of planar geometry
Glad of Fresnel; lens tinkerer
Of whales a-bellow, gliding under
A vague hint of moon.

The visible world is shrinking to ten feet
Mist rains silently on the cliff
The ocean rumbles no more, not much is discernible
Beside me, the earnest gloved hand
Shivers a little
On our way to the car.

[I wrote the poem below after visiting the Point Reyes Lighthouse for the first time in 2009. It has remained in draft form ever since, shared only with the person who appears in the final few lines. Until now.]