Searchlights - Joanne Durham

I lift letters from the attic box lined
with must and mildew.
No hints linger of lavender

that once perfumed its contents.
I read the promise
stitched on the garden-painted lid –

surround yourself with the powers
of the earth

a box full of buds opening

from childhood to woman,
journals scrawled with unfinished
sentences, faded photos and

small ceramic lighthouses
from bottom shelves
of thrift stores, already relics

of someone else’s past. I had lined
them on my windowsill, beacons
shining in the dark sea to save me

from crashing into jutting rocks
and shoals. The letters
say I smashed into many ‒ loves

that shipwrecked when I couldn’t
steer through icebergs
of silence or indifference,

parents worried about a daughter
who seldom called.
I reclaim her sunken treasures

through slanting lines
of light that drift
through attic blinds,

I wouldn’t want to be her again
but I honor her
for searching for her power

Joanne Durham is a retired educator living on the North Carolina coast, with the ocean as her backyard. When not writing poetry, her searchlights are focused on leaving her grandchildren a better world than the present one, practicing yoga, and being grateful for her life. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Third Wednesday, Juniper, Gyroscope, Rise-Up Review, Evening Street Review, Love in the Time of COVID Chronicles, and several other journals. Please visit for more about her background and poetry.