Caroline Misner

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

The sea scrolls out in a metallic sheen,
flat as the sky and with nowhere to go.
I summon the foam that seems to rise
like ghosts from an Ouija board,
flattening the roots of these warped rocks
that hold the lighthouse in its place—
a snuffed-out candle lost to time,
an obsolete monument of peeled paint
and withered boards sheered
by stray patches of wind.

A distant ship lowers its shadow
across the lip of the horizon
and a slant of silver dulls its blade
against the shore where I picked
through the isthmus of stone
and dark chambers as a child:
an interloper into your private world.

Your incandescent candle shut me out:
how you adored the songs
these tides sang to you.
You preferred to hear their dirges,
brooding alone at the sun-washed horizon,
than anything else on earth.
And how the fog crowded around you,
a cloak to protect your solitude.
Even when you were home you still longed
for the sea and for the howl of the ships
that were your sole companions.

And how I hated that sea!
And the boats and the liners and the cold
mists and the winds that blew dry leaves
like dust and hid them in the crags
of stone I used to hide in,
and the snows that feathered the boughs
of these crooked pines
and the filigrees of ice in the trenches
filled with brine.

Dogs and grandchildren now clamber up
the freezing slopes of my childhood;
crawling like crabs, they believe it amazing
that I was ever a child at all.
Sorrow that you never knew them
beats at the bruises of my heart.

My memories of you are all I have,
not even an old photograph, yellowed
over time, a wrinkle crossing off
the face of a stranger.
But, no matter.  Tomorrow
the rains will come
and bang the ocean like a hollow drum.


Greetings one and all and welcome to my brand new website!  Please bear with me  portraitI work on filling its pages with news and musings. Being technologically challenged, it may take a while to work out some of the glitches and I hope to have it finished within the next few weeks.  In the meantime, please feel free to browse through the archives and have a look at some of my work.  I've been writing poetry ever since I could remember and I've decided to include a section of Juvenilia in the archives.  Most of the poems listed there were written in my early teens and many of them are just plain awful!  But a few gems do stand out and I hope you enjoy them.  Also, if you would like to know more about me and the work I do, please feel free to click on "About".  There I have posted a brief biography of myself.  I'm not trying to be falsely modest, but I really loathe bragging about myself.  I feel an author's work should stand on its own merits and where an author was born or where she lives or what she eats for breakfast are completely irrelevant.

I would also be remiss if I didn't included a big Thank You! to my oldest son, Kevin, who with a friend designed this website for me and programmed it so that even I could manage it.  And another big Thank You! goes to my dear father Jan Kurz, who was in on it the whole time and provided the stunning photography behind the text of the daily poem.  And another big Thank You! goes out to all the editors, publishers and fellow writers who have supported me and my work over the years and gave me a chance when I needed it, including a Journey Prize nomination and two Pushcart Prize nominations!

"...And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt."
--Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)