A Night In The Old Lighthouse
The lock is stiff, the heavy wooden door
by Pete Crowther
On rusted hinges creaks as I walk in.
Tonight I am to sleep here in this lighthouse.
It’s twenty years since last its scything beam
Shone out at night to warn approaching ships
Where danger lay in sandbanks, shoals, and rocks.
For more than ninety years each night the light
Was lit and monitored by quiet careful men,
The lighthouse keepers. I can see them now
In dark blue uniforms and caps, brass buttons
Polished, mutton whiskers, waistcoats, pipes
And silver pocket watches hung from chains.
How different now, just empty rooms and ghosts
That throw pale shadows on their rounded walls.
I climb alone the winding spiral stair
And listen to the echoes of my steps,
They seem too loud and likely to disturb
The crowded ghosts that lurk behind each door
And might resent my presence here tonight.
The light that filters through the narrow window
On each floor begins to fade as finally I reach
The top and climb into the glass-walled room
That used to house the turning lantern light:
The sea is calm tonight and far below
The distant ships seem little more than specks
Upon the darkening waters of the coming night.
I’m loth to turn and leave this still light room
To pass those empty rooms and hear their echoes
Or see upon the curving stair some darker
Shadow that may be something lurking there.
It seemed a good idea to volunteer
To spend a night in this lighthouse all alone
But that was in the pub, all light and laughter.
I start reluctantly my downward steps
Below and know this night has scarce begun …