Derby Wharf Light Box, Number 2

The Route: Salem Jail to Gallows Hill, After Mary Towne Estey, 1634–1692
James R. Scrimgeour

This fast-moving, insightful poem retraces the path of the wrongfully condemned, yet prophetically forgiving, Mary Towne Estey across the city of Salem, from prison to the place of her execution in June 1692. Author James R. Scrimgeour, a direct descendant not only of Estey but also of juror Thomas Perkins, walks through Salem 300 years later, hearing echoes and seeing reminders that reflect on American life then and now. The 32-page booklet includes a bonus poem, “Judge Corwin’s House,” which offers a poignant, insightful tour of the judge’s residence, also known as “The Witch House,” a Salem tourist landmark. A two-page map shows the route through today’s Salem.

Scrimgeour, who holds a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts and is author of a critical biography of Irish dramatist Sean O’Casey, is poet laureate of New Milford, Connecticut, and Professor Emeritus at Western Connecticut State University. He is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Voices of Dogtown: Poems Arising Out of a Ghost Town Landscape (Loom Press, 2019), which was designated a “must read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.

Accompany an insightful and engaging poet along a city route still echoing with history—order your copy of this booklet today.

The Route unfolds like a cinematic journey through present-day Salem with a highly perceptive voice-over that reverberates between the Puritan past and an eternal present. The effect is inherently dramatic, because Mary Towne Estey, the woman accused of witchcraft without evidence, who is being trundled off to the gallows, is our ancestral mother. The parallels between that past and the commercial present can be unsettling. That she can go to her death praying for those who have borne false witness against her is the liberation offered in this excellent poetic tour de force by James R. Scrimgeour.”

Bill Tremblay, poet and novelist, author of Crying in the Cheap Seats, Duhamel: Ideas of Order in Little Canada, Rainstorm Over the Alphabet, Shooting Script, Walks Along the Ditch, and The Luminous Race Track