Sunday, September 5, 2010

lighthouse lines

“By marsh and tide,
by meadow and stream;
A will-o’-the wind,
a light o’-dream.”

~ Bliss Carman, The Joys of the Road

With a chance to see the land and water around me from an elevated vantage point- a lighthouse- I went up. Fredericton, New Brunswick has a city lighthouse at a bend in the Saint John River, where the downtown is centered. The city is close enough to the Atlantic for the river’s reversing currents to be witnessed. Tides from the Bay of Fundy send salt water upriver. A view, without fog, from a lighthouse is an inviting opportunity.

The lighthouses I know at home in Maine are anchored to rock ledges which are battered day and night by waves. Fredericton’s modest lighthouse shines a beacon toward watercraft, but also overlooks some city streets and distant landscape.

After making a circuit around the top of the tower with my camera, the sheer serenity of the place kept me there. There was certainly a better breeze than on the ground-level. Spiced with cool gusts, the sunlight was brilliant and unimpaired. And having no pressing time limitation, I found the niche between the beacon and the peripheral catwalk to be an ideal writing spot. Being instinctively drawn to edges and confluences, I wound up aperch the northwesterly direction, with the city to my left and the meandering widening river to my right and straight ahead. My week of sojourning along the Saint John came with the hope of unwinding and finding some uninterrupted writing time. Somehow, it took being at the top of the lighthouse- after several days of journeying, absorbing scenery, and flailing through mundane journal entries- for my words to begin finding the stride of the moment. So I stayed a good while, that much closer to the skies. Long enough to watch currents and clouds. Long enough to respire between paragraphs. As the beacon in its context, the writing and forward movement must persevere through all conditions in order to reach any sort of summit of thought.

a high-angle haiku

Looking toward the city buildings, I was reminded of one of my favorite features of Fredericton, which is the Poets’ Corner. On the previous day, I’d seen a rambunctious outdoor theatrical performance about the city’s literary history. Recalling the syllabic formula for haiku, I came up with a simple one from and about the lighthouse. From there, my attention was drawn to the river path below. The descent to continue exploring was equally eager as my ascent had been to observe. Primarily, I sought photographic vantage points, but thankfully my stop atop the lighthouse turned out to be a way to find some words.


Anne said...

May I suggest that you write a book with the title:

"Thoughts from Aperch"?

Your haiku is great!

Stephen said...

Fredericton is a charming city, and I've also enjoyed the riverbank. I suspect the general public is not allowed to ascending the lighthouse. (?)

Saint John has a Martello tower which I hope you got to see.