A Poem by Caleb Crain: 'Pemaquid Lighthouse Revisited'
A poem for Sunday We park beside the lighthouse keepers garden. A hummingbird is unbalancing hibiscus flowers; a nuthatch, tidying up the trunks of trees. I didnt know its name the last time we were here. What else did I not know? What else has happened? This is a place we dont seem to mind returning to after the dog, without him, maybe because it looks like time made walkable. The fins of gneiss, upright like vinyl in a bin, ride down the promontory in parallel, in company, in step the way one always is in time and differing the way one always does in time, until the edges, gentled but ungiving, march into, and under, the covering slaps, uncovering hiss. How many years has it been since we were here? How many summers, which should be spaced apart in memory by winters, like mica planes by quartz, but arent? The way weve divvied up remembering, its you who knows dates, and I, like the late dog, have better luck with hows. With which ridge here leads over the crown more or less safely, for instance, to the sideways mille-feuille of dressmakers curves, the serried sharks teeth, the organ pedals of stone that run into the sea. We clamber, wobble, resteady. You scrape a delicate shin. The others here, straight, I think, selfie early, but we, old marrieds, also not too good for public individuation, also living a common thing, venture further down the slope to where white granite crosses in. Like the fill-in flesh of scar. I love your scars, you swore the other day. But theyre not me! I shouted. Two cameras ago, I photographed the grainless rock intruding into grained, but not today. One takes a picture when one cant come back. To Paris, youth. But us in front of rocks that show off change that doesnt change in human lifetimes? It doesnt matter, I said one night. I meant our visit to geology. Not even us? you asked, not meaning you and me, exactly, I think, but something in between that will not last, that matters to us more because it wont. Before the boulders at the end, the crashed-upon, we find a dimple that has kept some sea, a double handful: kelp and ticklish hermit crabs and limpets in a temporary world. Because we happen to be here, we see the waters clarity and beauty, pointlessly, the giving element that washes rock away.