Down the street from my teenage home
is Lake Ontario; my bedroom window
frames the harbor: breakwall, buoys, and lighthouse.
Beacons break the dark with random red pulses
and a broad beam of light sweeps the water –
north east south west, around and around and around.
Once in a blue moon the beacons pulse at once,
as if to acknowledge your rapt attention.
Stormy weather is the best time to gaze –
when the foghorn sounds, it says you’re doomed
to loneliness and sorrow, if not in so many words.
We swam there and used a buoy near the breakwall
like a giant toy – we clambered aboard, tried to topple it, as if
we Oswego boys could do what Lake Ontario gales never could!
– Dave Read
The photo shows the poem as it accompanies an exhibit of Lighthouse photographs, on view at the H. Lee White Maritime Museum in Oswego, NY May 15 through Labor Day, 2021. An essay, Like Poet, Like Poem that notes the hilarious coincidence that the poem has its first summer job near where I had mine, at nearby Wright’s Landing, ran in the May 28th Oswego Pallidium-Times.