Winter Eyrie: “From the Lighthouse Above the World”

In a gray, cold late winter/early spring, this Winter Eyrie series has been such a blessing. Jesse Baker, Becky Hunsberger, Reagan Dregge, Sandra Hughes, Kori Frazier Morgan, Jen Rose Yokel, Loren Warnemuende, and Bethany Sanders wove worlds with poetry and prose, sunlight and snowfall, fairy lights and squirrels’ nests, ash and rose vines, moonglow and sleeping lilies. Their work brightened my days.

For my own Winter Eyrie contribution, I wanted to try metered poetry again, but realized that I would need more than a few weeks to hammer out trochaic tentrameter or a rondeau. I wanted to do something ethereal and dreamy, and this was the result. It’s the first time I’ve tried an epistolary style, and I had fun working with the limitations it imposes (such as dealing with only a few voices and not explaining everything that both people would know). Enjoy. 🙂

From the Lighthouse Above the World

From: Zach, Lighthouse above the World
To: Ellie, Western Isles
Delivered by crane
February 20

Hi Ellie,

I hope you’ve had a good winter out at the edge of the world. Do the leaves ever fall there?

I’ve been up at the Lighthouse since autumn. It’s quiet and cloudy. I have to tend the lantern every two hours until Easter, which makes my sleep schedule a bit like a new parent’s. It’s ok, though. I haven’t gotten tired of the colors. The clouds burn rose and saffron at sunset, and the beacon turns from orange to violet after dark. I can see the pale lights of the Vessels as they slip past.

It’s peaceful, after the war. I’m sure I’ll tire of it, but for now, the books and the doves are good company. 

Miss you.

From: Ellie, Western Isles
To: Zach, Lighthouse above the World
Delivered by flame
February 28


It’s so good to hear from you. We were worried when you left the hospital without saying goodbye. 

Is it lonely up there? 

We didn’t really get a winter out here – the apples are gold year-round, and the leaves turn silver and fall but grow right back. The dragons won’t let us get close enough to pick the apples.

It’s peaceful here, too. My unit has been exploring the sea caves on our days off.

I hear that the rest of the world is getting back to normal. NYC sealed their rift and just had their first football game. My sister is going to Purdue for engineering. Wireless communication might start up again.

Do you think we’ll ever feel normal whole again? 


Zach to Ellie
March 4


I’m sorry I left without saying goodbye. I couldn’t face you. In my mind, you’re still all in that ward, burned. I haven’t had the courage to write to the others.

The island sounds wonderful. Do you think you’ll stay when your deployment is up?

A Vessel came close last night, so close I could almost see it. It smelled like frozen stars. There was a break in the clouds afterwards, and I saw the whole Milky Way, glittering. I could almost hear the music.

I don’t know if we’ll be whole again. Maybe the rest of the world will be. The sky is open now.


Ellie to Zach
March 9


Have you wondered what would happen if you did see the Vessel? The Treaty stipulates non-contact, but surely they know that military posted at the Gateways might glimpse things.

We had a bonfire and s’mores last night on the beach. The mermaids sang. Then it rained, warm golden stuff that smelled like sandalwood, and we just sat there and laughed and let it drench us.

Zach, no one blames you for what happened on Manaslu. You had an impossible choice, and you saved all our lives. I’m not sure about the others, but Lea is posted on the Glass Mountain, and Sammy and Liang are down at the Everblue. I know they would like to hear from you.


Zach to Ellie
March 11


There’s no rain here – it’s too high. All I know is the lightest, most delicate crystals of snow, forming before my eyes, drifting down to the world I can’t see.

If I got a good look at a Vessel…Treaty or no Treaty, I’m not sure it’s safe. Anyone who saw the Rift-makers never came back the same.

Ellie, you’re so kind, but I was a coward at Manaslu. I should have been the one to burn.


Ellie to Zach
March 14

Don’t repeat this, but…I don’t think all Rift-makers are evil. Or that they’re the only ones out there. The Gateways destroyed so much, but they brought so much beauty. I was just stretching on the beach after my morning run, and a herd of unicorns thundered past me into the sea.

I miss texts and FaceTime – letters are so slow. Please tell me what you mean about Manaslu. 

Zach to Ellie
March 16

Maybe you’re right. When I go out on the balcony, I can see the clouds playing – pale wisps of wyverns and jaguars and rocs twisting and turning and chasing each other. Maybe the world wanted to go wild again.

So Manaslu . . . ok. I didn’t run to draw the Snowdrake away from the rest of you. I just ran. I had no idea the crevasse was right there. By rights, I should have been the one to fall into it.

I’m sorry.


Ellie to Zach
March 19


If you could see the sunsets here, you would either die of happiness or write an epic poem. I can’t describe them like you could. But we watch them each night like a TV show.

Can you get leave to come visit here, so I can see you in person? This is the twelfth draft of this letter, and I can’t write the words I need to tell you.


Zach to Ellie
March 20


I can’t come to you. I would, but this deployment is a five-year commitment.

But you could come here ~ 

Zach to Ellie
March 27

Ellie? If you don’t want to hear from me again, please just say so.

Zach to Ellie
April 3


Ellie to Zach
April 5

I’m coming. Bribed a pegasus.

Keep the light on for us

2 thoughts on “Winter Eyrie: “From the Lighthouse Above the World”

  1. rdregge April 6, 2022 / 12:23 am

    Such refreshment in these notes. I could almost smell the salt air, the distant drawing nearer. Waves of hope.

    Liked by 2 people

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