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Author: Dan Shanahan
Genre: Poetry
Registry #: poe004


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 poem.

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.



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