Archives for the month of: May, 2012

The Old Map


The old map I picked up downtown at Fred Bodin’s

tells me a lot about where I am.

In 1884 my house would have been part

of the holdings of Wilber E. Proctor, whose family

owned quite a bit of land in West Gloucester.


But the map also tells me that there was no

dwelling where mine now stands, or anywhere else

on Mr. Proctor’s land; that nearly the entire area

of the Adams Estate, which included Wingaersheek,

and Wambull’s property along Coffin’s Beach, was vacant.


Atlantic Street was there, skirting the marsh as it does today;

branching with Atlantic Avenue which ran straight to

the beach, giving Benjamin Trumbell access to his home

near Sleepy Hollow Pond.  Who knows, the remains

of his three buildings may still be there in those woods.


But not a sign on the map of the houses now crammed

quite close together, each vying for a better view

of the ocean and the beach and the light across the bay;

each the home of joyous summer and the expectation

of more to come, but that map had not yet been made.


© Marty Luster 2012


With thanks to:

Bodin Historic Photo

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82 Main Street

Gloucester, MA 01930







There was a great photo in the news this morning;

two  older men facing each other on an Athens street

having an animated discussion  about the debt crises in Greece.


The man on the right was bent toward the other,

his left fist clenched and his right jabbing the air near

the other man’s ear.


The talker on the left had his back arched and both arms

were pointed skyward with open hands  facing the other speaker ,

a dismissive gesture that said, “oh, stop the nonsense!”


It was quite unlike the calm and gentle scene

I happened upon while leaving the library

after returning a nearly overdue book.


Down Dale Avenue, about fifty feet away, a man and a woman

were quietly speaking to each other over the fence

that runs along the sidewalk.


The woman’s head was comfortably supported by her bent arm

which was propped up by the top rung of the fence.

But I’ll not write about the utility of fences;

that, as I remember, has already been done quite well.


The two  stood in a spotlight of sun

framed by a bending tree trunk , and by shadows

on nearby buildings and those cast by the fence

aimed at the sidewalk.


They were relaxed and attentive to what the other had to say.

It was a conversation, listening as well as speaking.

Of course, what they were talking about is none of my business,

but I bet it wasn’t the debt crisis in Greece


© Marty Luster 2011

West End Walk

Her shadow preceded her by many feet

as she whisked up Main Street in the still West End,

strongly backlit by the sun low in the sky.


The glare also gave brief life to the streetlights

and they glowed as if they were old gas lamps, not

those a modern day designer has copied.


Facades and doorways and holiday wreaths were

accented by the intense low rays of the

same sun that shined when these buildings were first built.


It seemed odd to me that a person should be

moving so quickly through a momentary

scene that the  strobe-light sun sought to freeze in time.


© Marty Luster 2011

Sacred Space


Where we lived in New York, a stone path led to

a meditation garden that we designed and

built over the course of two summers.


A stone Japanese lantern marked a turn

in the path that took us to a wooden bench

that overlooked the smaller of our two ponds.


The pond was home to tadpoles and bullfrogs,

spring peepers, two mated mallards that

visited us each year, muskrats, deer and


an occasional blue heron, magnificent

dragonflies and a wide, colorful and

musical collection of birds and insects.


That garden was a place of perfect peace

where I went to pause and to free my mind

of wasteful and exhausting commotion.


It is the place where my daughter was married,

where Barbara’s mother daily came and

near where  our well-loved dog’s ashes were spread.


So, when we moved to Gloucester, we took with us

the lantern and the bench and the sacredness

of that space and put them in a new quiet place


that looks over the gardens, down the hill

to the salt marsh and the tidal river;

where I listen to the  hidden ocean


and the bell buoy off  the Annisquam Light

and watch the gulls, egrets and herons over

the marsh and feel peace wash over me again.


© Marty Luster 2012


Ripple by ripple by ripple, the tide,

as if swollen with water from a

giant sponge squeezed by an unseen hand,

floods the bare rocks and rides up on the shore.


After a short while, it is absorbed once more,

draining out the harbor and rinsing its

piers of grunge, drying a miniature

archipelago beneath a mimic sky.


I can sit and observe the tide for hours;

in fact I have often done that under

the guise  of going  to take some photos.

Through the lens, a voyeur in the dark,

I clandestinely watch the Earth cleanse herself.


© Marty Luster 2011



There’s something to be said for

venturing out in the cold

and heading into the wind:


the bite on the face and tears

dimming sight, the pounding of

the surf echoed by my heart;


the dog hunkered down trying

to get under the wind, the

bleakness of the empty beach;


short steep waves with their tops blown

off , sand lifting and shifting

like in Lawrence of Arabia,


and the marsh grass showing the

scudding clouds the way to

yesterday’s calmer weather.


© Marty Luster 2012



When I walk through Gloucester, it’s like day-tripping through time;

whether down by the docks, or out along the back shore,

or up along Main Street, Middle Street or in Dogtown,

Eastern Point, Lanesville or, more to the point, Rocky Neck.


One afternoon in July, camera in hand, I headed out

Rocky Neck Avenue cloaked in the peace of Smith Cove

and the universe of color, texture and form  in

the galleries, shops and displays  all along the way.


As I approached Alma McLaughlin’s gallery and

raised my camera to my eyes, I was surprised to

find that time had been reversed and the last hundred years

on the Neck had vaporized; it was as it had been.


But the strangest part of this sight and gentle afternoon

was that I was not alone on Rocky Neck Avenue,

visiting the old sites and scenes of a century past.

Like a lantern dimly lit, a woman  came in view

and joined me on my  serene trip through time.


We did not speak, but both briefly paused to appreciate

the bright creations that adorned the walls of the gallery

that could be seen through the orderly glass-paned store front;

in a building,  on a street,  we had come so far to see.


© Marty Luster 2011


Here and There


When I was a kid, I spent my summers

near my grandfather’s farm in Port Benjamin,

in upstate New York. Port Ben wasn’t a port

anymore, not since 1900 when

the train replaced the D & H canal.


Anyway, the Rondout Creek ran near our house

and provided a great place to play, fish,

swim and have adventures that are with me

sharp and clear after more than sixty years.


To get to the creek, we had to cross a

hayfield, which, if recently mowed, was tough

on our bare feet , climb down the creek bank on

a rickety staircase and cross the muddy

bottom  land on a wobbly wooden walk.


Here’s the point. While walking Atlantic Street

the other day, as in a foggy dream,

I found that old boardwalk spread over the

flooded soggy salt marsh, no doubt trod by

kids with sixty years of adventures remembered.


© Marty Luster 2011



It’s hard for a foul mood to light around here,

no matter the cause:  a personal slight,

feeling poorly, some minor frustration or

irritation that binds my mind from time to time.


How can the joy within not be brought to a brilliant

glow when I start the day by walking the dog

to the cadence of the gong  in Ipswich Bay

or the  sound of the horn at the  Annisquam Light;


when, in summer, at night, I drift off to the

music of the sibilant surf, like a great

white- sound machine that calms my busy

monkey brain when it swings from one thought to

another, from one worry to another.


It’s hard to be morose when a walk on the

beach brings me the ocean’s incense, the

busy shore birds, the breezes  tinged with salt;

when the sun setting on a dune and a tree shaped

by the sea wind has me on my knees in awe.


© Marty Luster 2011

Rhythm of the Tide


There are places, like the Goose Cove Causeway, where

the tide rushes into the cove, sounding like a

marathon runner sucking air during the

last kick before reaching the finish line.


The water foams and the buoys bend and the

tidal current rips under the bridge with just

a brief pause at slack to catch its breath before

reversing direction and roaring out.


Viewing the tide at such places can be

exhilarating and fascinating, but

I prefer to do my tide watching at the

calm pools and rivulets of Jones Creek.


In peaceful weather, through the afternoon into

the evening, I stand there listening to the

serene, quiet breath of the earth as the pool

gently rises and falls – a giant liquid Buddha.


It’s easy, in times such as those, to become

part of the pool, like the mist that sometimes forms

on the surface on a cool, still evening and

stays attached as the breath goes in and out.


My body is the body of the earth;

the rhythm of the tide governs my breath and

flow of the creek, pumped by the heart of the ocean,

nourishes me and cleanses me.


I will stare, listen and I will breathe with the tide

and receive renewed life blood from its flow

and be one with this wondrous world until

the tide runs no more and the creek  is finally dry.


© Marty Luster 2011