Sandy Hook Light

for my father

We step inside the octagon
pillar. And we ascend.
Each turn of the spiral
stair breaks another one of your words
from its memory foothold—

loom                           ing
bar          ri     er
in                     can           des       cent
sand           bar
un               der                     tow.

Syllables smash
against the white-washed
concrete floor base below
and dissolve without leaving
any echo
residue. 1764, the year
it was built, splits
open—decades spill
onto the treads we’ve just climbed.
By the time we reach
the lanthorn, the Fresnel lens
freshly cleaned and functioning
into the 21st century, the sky
has cleared for us
to see in all directions—Atlantic Ocean,
Jersey Coast, Verrazano Narrows
Bridge, the Empire State
Building 20 miles north.
In the heat trapped inside and panorama opening wide, whole sentences fly
off our tongues, circumnavigating
enunciation. Did they jump,
or were they pushed? I can retrieve them
later, if you wish. For now,
it’s just you and me, Dad,
on the beam
that can be seen 19 miles
at sea on a clear night.
For now, we are the fixed white light.

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