One stormy, starless, Stygian night,
The lightkeeper sat beneath his light
Reading a tale in the warm watch-room,
Safe from wind and waves and gloom.
T'was a story of sailors long at sea,
Of fishwives, sirens, and green Selkies;
As the pages turned and the hours passed,
He heard the ocean tempest crash!
But with the dawn the wind died down,
The sea grass stilled, waves ceased to pound;
The keeper extinguished his yellow beam—
He fell asleep and dreamed a dream…
Into his slumbers swam a plump seal
With the face of a woman that looked so real,
He could not resist that briny coquette;
He tried to snare her in his net!
But she was slick and slipped away
To her home in the coral of a lonely cay;
The keeper followed her down, down, deep,
To her quiet, pelagic palace keep.
She fed him sandwiches of kelp and clams,
She offered him squid-cakes and seaweed jams!
She combed his beard with a coral sprig,
And then she danced a fishy jig!
"I'll marry you!" the lightkeeper said,
"To a pretty fishwife I shall be wed!"
The mermaid nodded, gave her tail a swish:
"Dear husband to be, then give me a kiss!"
But as they kissed at the bottom of the sea,
The keeper awoke from his reverie;
And found in his arms a less tempting pearl—
His big fat dog instead of the girl!
By Elinor DeWire
Excerpted from Lighthouse Victuals & Verse, 1996