Footprints in the Sand
Devereaux Beach, Marblehead
To Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Great Poet, you stood here, where I stand now,
With thoughts of what was lost you set your eye
When you glanced behind, ahead, then aside
And seeing your footprints upon the land,
Did you push further yet, with longer stride
There is no poet’Äôs doubt to wash away.
Your footprints, my good friend, are with the sand
|Estella Harriet Richardson Chadwick
I knew her as Stella
our great grandmother
who in her 80’s wrote letters, hundreds to the veterans
from World War II men without legs men without arms.
She wrote after she no longer shoveled coal
for wash day, nor walked from 24 Pearl Street in Marblehead
every monday morning with two pails to Gerry School
1/8 mile to pump water.
She scrubbed her clothes
with brown soap made from pig fat.
hot water, rinsing water
another two pails
walking 1/8 mile
climbing the stairs
waiting for water to boil
in her copper tub.
Her New England eyes old enough to look inward.
standing as a child in front of her
her cane hanging on the back
of her rocking chair
I remember obeying a silent voice
your great grandmother’s face.”
I remember staring
into her ocean
men lost at sea
salt of the earth pain
the room swimming in light.
by Elizabeth Alberda
|The Chadwick Eyebrows
All five of us have got ‘em!
As a kid I never knew
how the town knew
‘ there goes a Chadwick,” they’d say.
why I’d scowl hearin’ that
tryin’ to took real mean,
I mean sometimes you don’t want
the weight of ten generations
in Marblehead above your eyes,
you want to browse around,
psych books call it identity crisis.
One time I plucked in front of a funny mirror
the kind where everything looks large.
why I was practically eyeless by the time
I finished, but I found out
they grow back again and again and again.
Why I’ve even twirled the edges,
scarin’ myself in dreams
when a judge in a long black robe
flew after me down Washington Street,
on our way home from Story School,
we’d eye the hangin’ tree.
Even in a small New England College
these eyebrows grew wild.
Some friends tried to tame ‘em:
“ we’ve got to civilize you Lizzie,
you can’t run around with all that hair!”
But I’ve grown to love ‘em,
these black arches now turning white, these collectors of salt.
Mother grows them where we’re all close creatures,
just go ask those old timers, the ancient ones
in the Old Burial Hill near Red’s Pond
they know trees grow hair.
by Elizabeth Alberda
Marblehead: Enchanted Forest
-- Stephanie Peace
That Day In Marblehead
We all went down to the sea that day
She'd tucked in here at Marblehead
She knew if she had to run again,
She was coming here to try her new sails,
The wind was soft on the land that day
The streets were thronged with townfolk;
Hawkers and "headers" mixed on the streets.
The fortunate folks who live on the shore
The shops of Old Town were crammed to the doors
They came, it's said, from across the state
There were not only tourists and history buffs.
And some who had the room to spare
And they saw, with us, the growing swell,
Well, the crowd was pressing against the rails
As six-deep we stood at the rail that day
Across the harbor, we saw ourselves,
"There she is!" The call went up!
"Huzzah!" we cried. "Huzzah!" once
There were some had no room, and some too short
Commander Beck would later say,
The red, white, and blue on the shore was a sight
She could have been scuttled way back, you know
And no one tore her ensign down.
The world is weary, and sick, some say
There's always good news in the world if you try
For the product of pride, as you already know,
Old Ironsides brought us no bad news,
Marblehead is a town by the sea,
|"When Old Darling kept the lighthouse,"
As the old folks used to say,
He established a good custom --
Quite forgotten in our day.
It was when the town's chief business
Was cod fishing on the Banks;
Then our boys to prove their mettle
Early joined the fishing ranks.
In the fall, on their returning,
Darling (man-o'-war, he),
Flung Old Glory to the breezes
When the last boat came from sea.
--Came the time for their home-comming,
Day succeeded passing day
Marked by loved ones, anxious, watching,
At Fort Sewall o'er the bay.
All but one had safely anchored
In the harbor of renown,
And a mood of fear and sorrow
Settled on the good old town.
As the bleak winds of November,
Sweeping down the rugged coast
Brought no glimpse of the Decatur
To the weary, anxious host.
Then one morning in December,
Looking toward the "eastern glim"
Lo! a sail was scan approaching
Near the islands bare and grim.
Sailing grandly with a fair wind,
Baker's passed and Eagle Isle;
With her "salt wett" and crew hearty
After many a long sea-mile
Then as all eyes seek the lighthouse
For the signal of the years;
There's the hero of "Old Ironsides" --
Once again the flag appears!
Flying gayly from the masthead
As the sign that all may tell,
That the last boat of Bank fleet
Has returned and all is well.
-- Reverend Marcia M. Selman
-- From the December 14, 1850.
Marblehead Advocate & Mercury
The keeper, "Darling," in the poem is Captain Darling, who was one of the Marbleheaders on board USS Constitution in 1814 as the ship sought shelter in Marblehead Harbor.
|I am all alone,
sitting on top of my cove,
as I call it,
Listening to gulls screeching
while dropping their mussels
on the rocks below.
Puffy clouds above,
drifting slowly throughout
the pale blue sky,
Ruffled water surrounding me,
and the smell of dead fish
filling the air.
Fishermen pulling up traps
full of lobsters
the size of my shins.
And no one here to bother me,
at the top of my cove,
as I call it.
-- Dane Risch
Fair Drifts Foul
The little league field on West Shore Drive sinks in places
Today's game has lasted. It's Thirteen - nothing. A wispy
His coach calls time, squats beside the catcher, yanks at
Northeast of here, a vortex, spinning, pushes a bank of rain
The pitcher plops down on the mound, his legs straight out,
The shortstop flops, flat on his back, legs splayed out
The baseball-state-of-mind drifts and strays, while the coach
-- Michele Leavitt
|Remembrance of Old Marblehead
I stand on the rocks and listen to the ancient whispers of the sea,
They sing the songs of fishermen, of canno fire, of boats rich with merchandise.
I lie on the banks of Fort Sewall.
Suddenly, the benches transform into cannons.
Trees become young soldiers.
Townspeople cheer as the proud bow of Constitution steers into harbor.
At night men gather around a blazing fire.
Their triumphant songs rise to meet the surge of ocean waves.
When I walk on the old roads, I hear the drumming of Glover's Regiment marching over faded cobblestones.
On the steps of the Town House the crier is ringing his bell.
It calls out in the salty air like a foghorn leading sailors home.
When I walk by the historic houses, I see the spirits of Marblehead.
A woman stands on a widow's walk
Her white dress flaps around her like the wings of wild seagulls.
She is waiting for her husband to return.
She is waiting to see the tall mast emerge from the fog.
She is waiting.
The aged bricks and wooden clapboards of these houses are filled with voices.
And the song of these voices is remember.
-- Katherine Fowley
NOTE: This poem was read to a packed house at Abbot Hall during Marblehead's official celebration of its 350 Anniversity of Incorporation. The audience lept to its feet as the author concluded her reading to thunderous and prolonged applause.
|Tales of Home
Far beneath the beauty you display,
In a place far away,
Which perhaps I'll give to you,
When my soul is clear and blue,
The riches of this pirates plunder,
Your dreams cast asunder,
Come and lead us far astray,
Where we're "Headin" anyway.
To the "Banks" which soulessly beckon,
A bawdy band from Marblehead reckon,
Listing homeward, formost ghost,
Though' tis gettin' late, me host.
-- Kathleen Frances Dearing