? SLAB | Sound & Literary Art Book

Issue 9


Susan Johnson

A Lighthouse Keeper Speaks

A meteor shower showers us with small fires.
No one knows where their next umbrella
is coming from or who the wind might be.
Still days replicate like cells forming a thin tissue
one can’t peel away, as I look out at this cyclops
light that does not look away. They say kelp
is a tissue though to me it seems a thick scarf
that wraps around rocks cutting them off, words
slipping, water slicing, the knives of it, the shears
as every day more waves arrive, eating at cliff
and cove. I listen to the small silences that collect
between crests and troughs looping the island,
completing one sentence, only to find another
question mark at the end. Is the oyster awake inside
its shell? Does the infinity of water contain the infinity
of mind? The cells of my thinking alternatively
thicken and thin; the knees are always the first to go.
One waits for a sea change, a scene change.
The tide running as fast as it can, never at home.
They make a lot of being a player now but what
the game is no one knows for sure. Eiders tow
their young on invisible strings while fulmar fledglings
test the bight. The camera in one’s brain never
stops clicking: the business of wings conducting
the business of flight. There’s a hole in my head
where the insulation used to be. Now the entire
ocean blows through. I chase a hare until it’s
cornered by stone. Now I’m the one cornered.
I have always wanted to be this kind of alone.