All his lighthouses are self-portraits….
————Jo Hopper on Edward Hopper
Darkness. Darkness & a wild crashing & smashing
of waves on the rocks below. My light swinging
round & round—shining for a split second
on shards of rocky coast & a vast oily blackness
ready to swallow small craft & large.
I preside over this. Inside it is dry.
Iron stairs spiral up & up to where a keeper lives,
a keeper who prefers solitude to speaking,
who wordlessly goes up & down
how many times each night, how many times?
Days, too, it is rarely calm.
Seabirds fly round me & the wind blows.
The terrible wind that screeches & screams
until I think I cannot bear it for a moment longer.
But do. If I could steady the light & stop it.
If every circling thing would be quiet
for a while & let me collect myself.
If the windy whirling world would stop.
If. If. And if. But it cannot.
I should not be saying this. I should not.
I stand so straight & tall. On clear days
I seem to go on forever. But secretly I wonder,
What matters? And a voice (within or without?)
answers, The light. Only the light.
So I shall go on trying to see myself
as you see me: a pretty lighthouse framed
against the bluest sky. Encircled by
the green green grass, a few tufts of flowers.
White seabirds flying round & round me.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.