Poetry About Dogtown by Diana Rose Lynch

October 07, 2022 / A Local Favorite, Art and Music, Good to Know, Outdoor Adventures, Things to Do & See

Poetry About Dogtown | Diana Rose Lynch

Dogtown provokes two very large themes in my poetry. The first theme is the courage people exhibit when faced with the daunting task of survival. I researched Dogtown to find out about how history had remembered two women in particular, Ester Carter and Sarah Jacobs Philips, two citizens of Dogtown who faced starvation and grinding poverty.  Ester practiced mercy and kindness toward her neighbors, nursed and offered comfort to those around her. Sarah slowly starved to death, as she daily fought for her existence in a quiet, stoic manner.

The second theme that came across in my work was wisdom. These two women were my neighbors. Although we lived centuries apart, we walked the same woods, drank from the same water reserves, and cultivated gardens on these jagged Cape Ann ledges. The historians that wrote their stories did so for more than just posterity. They recorded these accounts so we could benefit from Ester’s kindness, Sarah’s stoic courage. Two women, their voices ring out across the centuries: This is how to live life, this is how you care for one another, this is how you live courageously, despite adversity, sorrow and suffering. Live life with as much wisdom as you can possibly practice. 

Passing Through – by Diana Rose Lynch                                                                                                          

I pulled my wool socks 

up to my knees,

strapped my hiking boots tight

in 95 degrees.

Rubbed lemon grass oil

on olive skin

to ward off

the Massachusetts state birds 

who prick my like pins.


Clutching the map and my GPS

I wandered the dense

woods of Dogtown, 

where I must confess

I was looking for Ester.


Don’t misunderstand me,

I wasn’t looking for her ghost. 

I found her cellar hole

a few stones, piled up

where she would host

her neighbors, her friends

ladles of cabbage soup


All seasons her place of warmth

her smile, sitting on her stoop

where she would yell out, 

I eats no trash 

refusing to pick berries,

her dignity intact.


I wanted to be as near to Ester as I could

in her woods, 

out of respect, 

it’s what I owed her.


We lived together, 

centuries apart

kindred spirts

relieving suffering as best we could

bringing soup, shoveling snow for those 

too old

making the weight of life less. 


In her woods

I promised in silence

I would continue kindness

as she left me to find it. 


Requiem for Sarah Jacobs Philips – by Diana Rose Lynch

When the sun rose the orange pulp skies spread out across the gray, rumpled harbor. The clouds paraded alongside, like a confident lover, the sea birds in unison, sailing in the cool breath of the morning wind. Meanwhile, Sarah collected mussels, plucking the blue-black shells from their watery home, settling at the bottom of her bucket, trying to stave off the daggers of starvation for another day. Did she think about the glowing fusion, that celestial fire, and how magnificent it was that her breath revived her again and again, despite her overworked body, her failing hands? I hope her last moments of thought were given to the sun.

Diana Rose Lynch is a language teacher who teaches writing at Boston University. The Ekphrastic Review published her first poem in 2020. Her poetry was recently featured at Dogtown On My Mind: A Reading and Discussion Celebrating Dogtown in the Writer’s Imagination Today. When she is not teaching, she writes poetry, gardens, and hikes. Her favorite pastime is cooking lavish meals for her friends and family. She lives in Gloucester, MA and is currently working on a collection of poetry.

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