Two poems

By Marilyn Zuckerman

Boston Magazine back cover | Brian Struble & Liz Noftle

Leonard Zakim Bridge

Lyre strings sing a song of Boston
of the Harvard Yard
of Fenway Park
the Hancock and the Pru
of the Constitution
Central Davis and Kendall Square
Sam and John Adams and the Boston Tea Party
the swell of the harbor
the severe churches
silo-shaped Follen,
− a cannon shot down from Battle Green on Menotomy Road
drenched in New England light
fanlights – blistered windows of sandwiched glass
Lloyd Garrison thundering from the pulpit
offering to burn the Constitution if black people weren’t freed.
Emerson, Bronson, Alcott and Thoreau,
high-minded speechifying latter-day Puritans
trying to be purer than God


I lived for 20 years on the road where America began, that once Paul Revere thundered down so that every 3rd Monday in April he or his avatar comes back on a white horse while in the rear, the Redcoats (worse for wear and off beat), return us to Boston 1775.

You can’t walk down the Arlington street without finding a plaque or a tablet commemorating someone who died or was wounded that day, for Menotomy, as Arlington was once called, bore the heaviest casualties of the battle.

Streets where I walked—the awninged restaurant, the gift shop, the bank and the library—from Medford Street to the Heights. There, where Starbucks is now, on the corner of Mass Ave and Medford Street stands one of the many houses burned down by the retreating Redcoats who by now were raging with frustration and disbelief that these Colonials were holding them off.

In Menotomy that day, it was not like the pathetic Patriot Day Parade with shuffling bedraggled Redcoats, but the real thing, the British so angry − the clash of arms, the streaming steeds, fire, sword and musket. And we know this from historic plaques which tell us of the “bitter house-to-house fighting, room-to-room, hand-to-hand”− of Jason Russell who died on his doorstep and eleven others from the Danvers Militia. The bullet holes that are still seen in the house that stands behind its stone walls, of Samuel Whittemore, who at 74 killed so many Redcoats that he was bayoneted, left for dead, then lived thirteen more years and died at 87. And finally, there was the old woman at Spy Pond who disarmed and unhorsed two British soldiers. Their horses and rifles still lie at the bottom of the pond.

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These poems are for those who died or were injured during the 2013 Boston Marathon.

PNA Swoosh


2 thoughts on “Two poems

  1. Marilyn, thank you for your tribute to Boston as it continues to heal and regain its strength. And thanks for just seeing so much in our ordinary living. Your poems are a reminder to look up, look around, keep your eyes open — there’s so much going on in the present, and so much being spoken to us from the past.

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