BY DAY, BY NIGHT

1

I admire a lighthouse more than a ship
without masts, as a qualifier

anchored in some upstanding foundation

I, who have roved the continent
and no further
gaze from the shore

or out, from the water,
to peer at each obelisk
instructing the coastline

yet masts, in open sail
could make this a wash
or a wish-list

2

I look in vain for a painting or photograph
of ocean only
always some shoreline
or ships – naval battle
conflict or simply
what attempts to bridle wild space

the lighthouse, as a genre, especially
countering the fabled variations of blue

at last, O’Keeffe’s large canvas of clouds and sky
comes closest
even more than her cross by the sea

3

costly as a ship
to construct and to run

this marker
of commerce, progression, and change
made obsolete, still

a warning as welcome

faithfully alludes to danger
in homecoming

a way around obstacle
a passage through the mouth
to safe landing

as much as the other abode
sailors justly dread

4

in daylight, a solitary standing figure
a sentinel
upright numeral one

a spire, a prayer
shrine, stupa
gravestone

defiantly erect penis

by night, its repetition
insisting
“Here! I’m here!”
as much as “Beware!”
in a tally of shipwreck

once with its whale oil and great lenses
arrayed on a crystalline comb
investment in life

such magnification
casting its spark
so far

this rock, uttering its expletive
to death

pinprick of light

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodso
To see the full set of seacoast poems,
click here.

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