The Last Lamp-Lighters

By Kenneth Rosen

I saw the last lamp-lighters! Patrolling

The dusk, looking for gas-lamps

Whose lights had gone out. Each held a pole

Forked for lifting the frail pearl-tinted bowl,

And one with a small wheel and flint for casting


A spark. Did all lamps need to be lit? Or just

Those doused by raindrops or errant drafts?

They seemed sad, these doomed men who knew

How to give fog its soft perfume, and the facts

Of our life their necessary, tender, but fatal glow.