On a volcanic promontory
surrounded by an azure sea
stands a red lighthouse.
High above rocks which crack
wave lines into white foamy boils,
it guards scalloped bays.
Travelers to the stony left will
splatter into coral fodder,
those to the calm white will be tied snugly
to bleached white pilings by
stout twisted rope—safe.
At night, its rotating beams cut
darkness, spinning brightness against sharp
mountains and soft clouds.
Its hypnotic pulsing hooks me.
I’m pulled into its spell—
not kicking and turning
away, as I tugged against the red spinning crystal
every morning of internship at the city hospital.
I’m grabbed by centripetal grip
tugged with senses aligned
to the talismanic tower.
My forefinger points as
a compass needle my soul
toward that spot.
I ask at the front desk, “Does
anyone ever hike to that lighthouse?”
“No, it’s too far
but find Isabel, she rides horses up there.”
At dinner, I find and interrupt her,
“How do I hike to the lighthouse?”
“I’ve done it,” she says
“It takes two hours. Bring lots of
protection, water, and good shoes.
Walk to the end of the
beach and just climb left.”
“Don’t do it by yourself”, says my wife.
“What if you have a heart attack?”
It’s easier for me to say “no”
to people than to lighthouses.
A mirror ocean reflects the predawn gray
off underbellies of nonilluminated clouds.
I focus my face on the distant
eastern mountain with resolute eye.
I all but glide over matted kelp
and sloping, shifting sand.
I slip and slide on loose pebbles
as I lean upward into the grade.
I sweat, I pant, my heart races
but there is no pain.
Shaped like the dorsal marlin fin
and with sharp pined ridges fore and aft
and precipice either side, the rocky
road winds ever upward.
I fear now—I might
lean over the side to see the
rocky shore and fall. Perhaps the
distance is too great.
Looking up I see a black
woman, elderly, wearing a crimson
floral blouse, shimmering with
light and breeze.
She surefootedly steps down
with her walking stick in hand.
“You must be fit.” I say.
“I’m thankful for that,” she smiles.
Disarmed, my past complaints, worries
blow away like ocean spray.
A purification of sorts has
opened my growing receptiveness.
Aware, now I step forward.
The sun’s sharp light rebounds off
the ocean below, directly at me.
I hear every swell lift over each
reef, tumbling forward, cascading
then regathering into green before
its final slap at white sand.
I see battles between rock
and sea, marked by
White spumes climbing skyward.
Is it wind which erects
each hair on my forearm?
The red lighthouse once reached
is less than it seemed both
from below and from my dream.
My expectations for reality
limit my appreciation of truth.
But yet that lighthouse separates:
dark from light
sea from land
high from flat
solid from air
brown from blue
danger from safety
yesterday from today.
It is the exact point
at which I converge
and I diverge.
I am the sum
of all my possibilities.