The Lighthouse Keeper’s Woman.
In your next letter, try not to lie. Take a spotless sheet of cream vellum, your fountain-pen, pause, then write me the truth. Begin, dear Joy…
Tell me of the Signal-House, the weather in the wires, the Kittiwakes and Herring-Gulls and how you feel, how you really feel out there on the island. They say it makes men mad.
Tell me of your day. The man said days are where we live (but we live, too, Gerald, in our letters). Tell me of Sundays, are they different? Do you see Monday as the start of a long week or just a day beginning M?
Those days when it snows. Write to me about soundlessness of soft snow. I do not care for your gales, the lashing rain, the scream of wind, winds so strong the light is twisted.
Do you miss dogs barking, the gentle catch of a morning milk-float, telephones?
Do not despair, Gerald. You are doing good things, saving lives and allowing little boys to dream of your lighthouse. (Don’t tell them of cold and lonely nights).
Your work is good, Gerald. You work not for Herod, nor in a filthy city.
You are not dreaming. Do not write to me again and say your fork and knife were dancing, while the spoons played music. I was not amused. Rather I feared that the island, the patient sea, was seeking you out. Desist, stay in the present, think all the things in the world we find in heavy books, The Kangaroo, the Platypus. The story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Slaughter of the Innocents. P lease, never again ask such horrible questions of those children. No, “what-ifs”. They are innocent by default. That is what it means to be an infant.
I know the sea rises up. I understand how fear pushed down into the belly rises up in blood to the brain, but I am real, Gerald, I am your Joy and March is but five months away.
Your light so bright it burns, is bright as life. Nothing is bad. Please do not write to say your mind is going that way, this way, that way, this. That is just the weather. And solitude.
Stay safe, Gerald, and keep our mariners safe, stay inside the lines we have painted, and in twenty-one weeks, we will be together again. Then you can be a farmer.