Standing by the Fresnel lens

standing by the Fresnel lens
— stomach rising and plunging
with distant ship on ocean swell —
a subtle melody tickles my ears
eddying whistle-tones dimly penetrate
the glass panels
of my enclosed crow’s nest
my lofty citadel
warmed by the afternoon sun
far below the guard rail
the flooding tide makes islands
of twisted limestone outcrops
a welcome swallow flits and darts
between the weathered rocks
its tiny body buffeted by the wind
my stomach tenses
then lurches with vertigo
as a pacific gull rapidly ascends the stiff breeze
it’s large wings outstretched
hanging before me
the handsome bird pierces me with his steady gaze
i forget to breathe
time is suspended in mid-air
then with a tilt
he is gone
squinting to the west
faraway people walk to the golden sky
their footprints like stitches
tacked around a scalloped hem of blinding silver
only spindly-legged shadows remain
as briny tongues lick the shore clean
a high-pitched cry calls me
to brave the drop once more
sooty oyster-catchers wheel across the shallows
orange beaks and black backs
stark against a sea of foam
like sheets of living lace
tossed on a draper’s table
white waves advance
 …..  …..  …..  …..  …..  ….. dissolving …..  ….. 
 …..  …..  …..  ….. dispersing
 …..  ….. retreating
endlessly inundated by the next fizzing bolt
of intricate lacework
rolled out for inspection
i am captivated
mesmerized by wrinkles of translucent filigree
the setting sun turns to salmon
as i ease around the lens encasement
one last time
— the eye of the lighthouse —
ever commanding the comings and goings
of ships and tides
birds and beachcombers
clouds and stars
will this solitary tower
of bewildering views and painted rails
admit me to climb its spiral stairs another day?

as darkness creeps across the headland
the light winks twice
and a three-note melody
whispers through salt-flecked glass
 ….. come again
 …..  ….. come again
 . ….. ….  ….. come again

 AMNorman, April 2015. Photos by Jarrah Wadsworth
I was fortunate to spend several days in the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse. Like most lighthouses around the coasts of the world, it is not normally open to poets and musicians who wish to linger, taking in the resonance and sights of these magical LightFlutes. I am most grateful for the opportunity. I shared part of this experience with the photographer Jarrah Wadsworth. These are some of the beautiful photos she took in the brief time she had inside the lighthouse.

If you don’t know what a Fresnel Lens is – Google it!
And check out Augustin-Jean Fresnel (/freɪˈnɛl/ fray-NEL) while you’re at it – a remarkable French engineer and physicist (1788–1827).
In the meantime, here is a Fresnel lens in the Queenscliffe
Maritime Museum… with Jarrah and myself as prisoners…
Related Lightflute posts:

About anne norman

musician, shakuhachi player, author, poet, tea lover...
This entry was posted in Environmental essays and poems, LightFlutes, poems and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Standing by the Fresnel lens

  1. Pingback: unborn melodies | peripatetic musings

  2. Beautiful! …and the stupendous pictures!


    • anne norman says:

      As always, I appreciate you reading my work, Tomas.
      I wasn’t sure whether to do this layout with no punctuation, or put it in normal paragraphs… as it really is a piece of prose. Still not sure… a different style to my usual writing.
      Yes, Jarrah’s photos are great.


      • I agree with your layout – it guides the reading and the breathing to the rhythm of the scenario you unfold… I love the words on their own – free of commas and periods… giving each of the word-groups their own organic space in the space.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: freznel fairy | peripatetic musings

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