(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

Keeper Of The Light

I pulled at the oars with Valentine
While Derek sat at the rear,
He'd taken his turn, now I took mine
Our quarry was drawing near,
For up on the bluff, deserted now
The tower stood, gaunt and white,
We'd managed the creaking boat somehow
To get to the Keystone Light.

It hadn't been manned for fifty years
Its age was a matter of doubt,
The Keeper's wife, in a fit of tears,
Left the light sputtering out.
Her husband gone in a giant wave
That carried him off from the bluff,
While in the dark was the Barque ‘Enclave'
Settling down in a trough.

And on the steps of the Keystone Light
The widow clung to the rail,
The wave was tugging about her skirt
As the Barque lost its mizzen sail,
A shark, caught up in the mighty swell
Was swept right up to the steps,
And took her leg in a single bite,
Returned with it to the depths.

They found her dead by the Keystone Light
The Barque, smashed up on the shore,
But never a sign of the Keeper, Sam,
Who had guarded the Light before.
They said his ghost ruled the tower top
That it howled in a winter storm,
While she kept swinging the outer door
To try keep the tower warm.

So we climbed up on that winter's day,
The three of us to the bluff,
We lads let Valentine lead the way
She liked all that ghostly stuff.
The door hung off from its hinges there
From flapping about in the wind,
While Derek muttered, ‘We'd best beware,
There may be ghosts, ' and he grinned.

We'd gone, expecting to stay the night
So carried our candles and gear,
The bottom floor with the open door
Was a little too breezy, I fear.
I followed Valentine up to the Light
And carried the blankets there,
The view was truly a marvellous sight
But the wind gave us all a scare.

It hummed and soughed at the outer rail,
It groaned, and whispered and growled,
They'd warned, ‘It sounds like the Keeper's wail, '
And true, at times it had howled.
It even seemed to have called her name,
The widow, crying in pain,
‘Caroline, I'll be coming for you, '
Was the sound of the wind's refrain.

We slept that night, or we tried to sleep
All huddled up on the floor,
But Derek rose, and before the dawn
His body lay down on the shore.
He must have fallen over the rail
While both of us were asleep,
But now the sound of the wind in its wail
Said, ‘Catch the wave at its peak! '

We hurried on down the spiral stair,
As the dawn came up like a trick,
We couldn't bear to be caught up there
With both of us feeling sick.
But Valentine went out on the steps
Where the widow had stood before.
A sudden gust caught the door and just
Knocked Valentine to the floor.

I saw she'd never get up again
With the wound it gave to her head,
So much blood, like Caroline,
I knew she had to be dead.
I heave away at the oars, and pray
That their sacrifices will be
Enough to bring back my Caroline
For the Lighthouse Keeper was me!

2 January 2015

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Comments (1)

Excellent gothic poem David, as usual your work does not disappoint. A masterful tale of ghosts and love.