The Light Before the Dark

Covesea Light House, by Simon Bowler

The fire lieutenant’s daughter daydreamed of living in the houses on the South side of town, the ones looking down on the Bay, with widow walks and windows that let the warm glow of the light house spin in.  She didn’t know then, what those were for.  A little girl from town, who’d never imagined what the terror could be, standing at glass doors, on the third floor as a hurricane with no name bears down on a little town on the edge of the Pacific.

Our little light was built before any of us were born.   Before the ships had engines, and the bay was mapped in the modern way.  There weren’t buoys and beacons and satellite driven navigation systems.  But the fishermen were the same, grown in this town, taught to haul nets from brothers and fathers before them, wearing the knit caps mothers and sisters and girls from the county school would work on in the long winter’s dark.

They say a storm came that destroyed everything. Winds slammed ships into rocks, or cliffs or one another, and suddenly there were only the very young or very old men to man this town.  And bereaved women pleaded and got us a light house built on the highest of low ground.  Tourist’s know its name, calling it in exotic accents admiring the way it seems to fit just right into the landscape.  We just call it the light.  But then, we are just the simple people of this simple town by the sea.

And the fire lieutenant’s daughter daydreamed of living in the houses on the South side of town, where she could watch the light spin and the children play at its base, while the ships sailed back into safe harbor.  The she grew, and met a boy who sailed those ships, and bought her a yellow house at the end of the street looking down into the narrow bay.  That little light would shine into their bedroom late at night while he was gone and it would call him home to her.  But instead of a refuge and a happy home she found herself alone, a widow of the sea before a man drowned, hating the reminder which stood so strong and proud in each of her windows view.

Then came the waves, on the evening of a sunny day, crashing into the rocks and spraying higher than the sea wall protecting the tacky taffy and ice cream shops.  When the alarm sounded, it was too strong, too dark, too late- the Storm had come.  Women gathered in the Greek St. Nicholas, as the winds beat upon the stained glass filled with false sun.  The sailors too would gather and pray, if it weren’t for the fact they were fighting to stay on this Earth in the storm filled sea.  So the women prayed twice, once for themselves, and once for the men, and God would hear some of them.

And the fire lieutenant’s daughter daydreamed of living in the houses on the South side of town, but tonight, in the wind and the rain, atop a widows walk, the light failed to bring him safely in.  And she watched as the demise of her daydreams fell upon those rocks, just before her last steps on the widows walk.

Inspired by the photography of Simon Bowler, and his above image of the Covesea Light House.



  1. Pingback: March & April 2014: Wrap Up | A MaeDay Life

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