The Lantern Girl (A Poem)

By Joyce Jacobo

[Author’s Note: Based on an old tale I heard that seems to have come from Japan, of a kindly soul who seeks to help anyone who is in trouble just off the coast of her hometown.]

A young fisherman was lost at sea

  somewhere off the coast of Japan

  amid the darkest evening he had known

After a sudden storm

  that had pushed him an unknown distance

      he struggled just to stay afloat

         while enshrouded by dense fog

The fisherman cried out for help

            in his desperation

    as he bobbed atop the choppy waves

        and rain drummed down from the heavens

                     hidden from sight

He just avoided a sharp slither of stone

   which jabbed up from the ocean

                     much like a curved sword

     then another that scraped the hull 

            from the other side

The fisherman realized

     he was in a minefield

          of these vicious obstacles

                and despaired at his chances

                    to escape them to safety

       when there came

         a glimmer of red light

          shaped into a radiant sphere

It glided through the air like a firefly

   and produced soft music

     that reminded him of a lullaby

The fisherman followed the light

    with great care in his boat

       past the jagged stones

    until his boat stopped

           in a harsh jerk

             against soft sand

      and the fog cleared to reveal

               he had reached a village

                    along the coast

                         ***

The storm had blown him

    to a place many miles away

        from his usual grounds

By the miracle of the red light

   the fisherman learned

     he had navigated a vast stretch

        of the sharp stones in the fog

      that had claimed many lives

            over the years

He asked after this odd occurrence

   throughout the village

     until he came across an old man

        who tended a shrine upon a hill

          that overlooked the sea

This old man told of a girl

   who lost her father

              (a sailor)

      to the stones

       and would forever afterwards

          help to guide ships away

            from the stones from atop that hill

              whenever the fog rolled in

                  with a red paper lantern

Although it was amid the sea

 rather than from the hill

    that the fisherman had seen the light

       he refused to question the fact but asked

         to meet with this lantern girl and thank her

To which the old man gestured to the shrine

    and indicated the girl had grown old

            then passed away

                only the previous week 

23 thoughts on “The Lantern Girl (A Poem)

    1. Thank you. I believe there is supposed to even be a shrine dedicated to that legend somewhere in Japan. It was just too beautiful and uplifting a tale to resist sharing it.

      Like

      1. Mainly from the country side of Dominican Republic, though through the years I have collected some here and there from different parts of the world. They have always fascinated me and I have been lucky enough to have many friends from different places share tales that they have heard. I only remember a few but do recall the excitement and lasting shock at the end of some. πŸ’•

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dominican’s are a mix of Taino Indian, Spaniard, and African, so I would think that the people would grab a bit from each, aside from this it boarders with Haiti which adds a French appeal and history as well. This combination creates lots of stories.πŸ’•πŸ˜ŠπŸ’• This conversation is motivating me to write about these. Thanks for that.πŸ’•

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ooooh, I love the way stories can change and be influenced by a mixture of many different cultures and perspectives. Incredible. I’m glad this conversation has been so inspiring. ^_^

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: