Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Lighthouse Keeper's Wife

In 1991, I entered into a delightful collaboration with two other poet friends, Sharron A. Crowson and Sandra Reiff, wherein we put together a chapbook called The Wives. In 1995 we followed up with The Astronaut's Ex-Wife and Other Poems (both from MetaRaven Press). We told stories of wives in first and third person. Many of mine were historical. Being a librarian, I loved doing research on the wives of famous and not so famous men, including Rebecca Boone (wife of Daniel) and Deborah Franklin (wife of Ben), as well as many women of the western frontier. The poem printed below is based in Galveston.

Lighthouse Keeper's Wife

I am Lillian:
wife, then widow,
to Daniel Ahern,
he the lighthouse keeper
here at Red Fish Bar
on Galveston Bay.

He went to town
on the schooner one day
and fell overboard
and was lost.
"Your husband drowned
last night," a sailor
told me when
the boat returned.

Inspector Mead
allowed me to continue
here at the light station,
so I kept
the light going
for two more long years,
and fed my babies,
kept them tied
to my waist
so they would
not fall over the railings
into the water.

But no more
will I study the waves
for some sign of
my Daniel.
for it is 1889
and I am tired.

Another man has asked
me to marry, and
I agreed.
This morrow
we move to town
I must learn
how to
turn my back on the sea.

- Keddy Ann Outlaw

photo: Cover collage by KAO


Gail Storey said...

Oh, Keddy, I love this poem! So straight to the heart and true. I've been catching up on your recent posts and thoroughly delighting in your collages and your painted chair--you are so amazing and talented! You usher such original beauty into the world.

Penny said...

Lillian Ahern Hughes was my Gma Hughes. Please let me know where you found the info for the poem, "A am Lillian"


Kay Van Hoesen said...

Keddy, that's a moving poem. A whole story told with emotion and color and texture in a short poem. Beautiful. Amazing.