Crystal Lake is a selection of
poems written during my twelve years in West Peabody, Massachusetts.
The poems emerge from a small mill-pond bordered by malls
and suburban development. Yet the lake is still a prominent
flyway for some of the most beautiful waterfowl in the country.
Often I would spend days there simply sitting and observing:
Otters curious and ravenous cracking
off the heads of perch.
Crystal Lake was also the home
of Giles and Martha Corey who operated a mill there in the
17th Century and were falsely accused and executed during
the witch hysteria in Salem. The work is dedicated to these
two martyrs. Their strength of character and defiance manifests
in Crystal Lake, this small seemingly fragile watershed that
has withstood railroads, development and "malldom".
In writing the work it became
clear to me more so than in any previous work that the poem
literally speaks from a place, from the language stored in
the minerals and light and life of the place. The pulse underlying
all creation is detected in the silence that comes from sitting
still on a ridge for long periods of time in blizzards, rain-storms
and quiet deaths of autumn. It is the speech of things in
their natural order and simultaneous rhythms that enters the
I have read the poems at libraries
in the city, to young and adult audiences. Each poem is a
natural by product of Crystal Lake as the geese, otter, catfish
and seasons are:
And like the flocks and harvests
of the landscape the poem is familiar to the place
For twelve years I walked the
paths and railroad tracks of Crystal Lake. Each visit revealed
something new like the ever changing reflections of light
and darkness in its waters.