Mat de Melo — a Portuguese kid who grew up in New Bedford, taught English at GNB Voc-Tech, then moved to Lisbon, Portugal, and wrote three books — says he was inspired by The New Bedford Light’s blue-and-white logo.

“I stared at it for 30 minutes in sort of a day dream,” he wrote in an email to the Light. “And from that it formed in my head.”

What formed was a poem, “For Every Lighthouse There is a Watchman,” which de Melo shared.

For Every Lighthouse There is a Watchman

It started with an
idea. That turned
into words on
paper, which
then turned
into a blueprint.
And everything
snowballed from
there, in
Massachusetts
where another
Noreaster was
expected. There I
build a lighthouse;
small, and water
resistant. A
lighthouse that
doesn’t melt,
because I made
it with no
ordinary mittens.

Every night I
climb onto the
lantern room and
draw what I think
is there: I can see
the Barn House in
Martha’s Vineyard.
I can see a green
buoy marker in
the bay. I can hear
the foghorn. And
from where I sit
I can almost see
Manhattan. I can
almost see the
Empire State
Building. I can
almost see the
billboards, and I
can almost see
the theaters. I
can almost see
a vagabond like
me in Greyhound
bus with nearly
impossible dream.

I can hear the
violins that, to
an untrained ear
may sound like
impossibilities,
but to me it is the
sound of Marlon
Brando on a stage
in A Streetcar
Named Desire.
Here in a
lighthouse that
doesn’t melt,
I turn words
into pictures.

The snow has
begun to melt. I
can see the sand
dunes. At last!
Summer is almost
here. And you
dear lighthouse
is all I need to
see what I have
written. Here
in the lantern
room where I
make it happen.
On paper, with a
number 2 pencil.
I can hear the
sound of late
night ideas. I
can see the
boats asleep
in the water.

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