In June my sister, Carole Cowan Dunscombe, died at the age of 51. My parents survived her as no parent should have to do. The timeliness of the Children’s Memorial at Edgartown Light couldn’t have been any better and my parents were able to have a stone placed there in her memory. Carole couldn’t get down to the lighthouse due to her wheelchair, however she spent many days looking out on the light from Memorial Wharf.
While on the Vineyard last week to fish the derby, I took a walk out to the lighthouse to see her stone and spend some time reflecting. I don’t know why the spirit moved me to write, as I’ve never composed a poem before in my life. However, I began to jot down thoughts and notes on the surrounding area. It truly is a special place and in the poem I tried to capture it as best I could. Save for a line or two, perhaps this poem will mean something to others who have a child memorialized there, and I share it in that hope.
Down by the Lighthouse
Down by the lighthouse, they set your stone,
east by northeast on the compass rose.
It sits on a heading of 70 degrees,
I’ll now take this course when I head out to sea.
And think of you in your waterside rest,
With Grandma and Brennan, enjoying the best.
Further off on that line is Cape Pogue Light,
Your light and it winks back and forth at night.
Closer in lies that hidden treasure, the Gut,
Where we go fishing and picnic and such.
The morning sun will rise on your right, in the east,
Where the cabanas line up, red, white and blue on the beach.
To the south lies Edgartown and Memorial Wharf,
There you read books and watched the On-Time move back and forth.
To the west is the Harbor View and those great rocking chairs,
I can sit there now and imagine the wind in your hair.
To the north, Vineyard Sound, and the Cape far away,
Clear, blue-green waters and white ferries on the way.
Right out back is lagoon pond, when that Lab has to swim.
Then around to Little Beach to throw a ball for him.
Walk out to Starbuck’s Neck and see far-off Oak Bluffs,
Who knows, you just may run into old Henry Beetle Hough.
Down through Sheriff’s Meadow he walked each day
One of his beloved collies leading the way.
He can tell you stories of old Vineyard days
While Brennan and his dogs run and play.
In the summer the children will play at your feet,
And their laughter will fill the air so sweet.
In the fall, come derby, the fishermen will be there,
Casting over and over, salty jokes in the air.
In the winter, when the winds come hard from the north east,
Take shelter in the hollow, behind the dunes, til they cease.
The arrival of the ospreys will mark the coming of spring.
And the hope and optimism it always brings.
Down by the lighthouse, right there by the shore,
You’ve found beauty and happiness for evermore.
My back against the lighthouse, your stone at my feet,
I feel you sitting here with me.
At peace and at rest in your home by the sea.
Stirling, N.J. and Edgartown