Bush House, a Salem Tale

The older docent glares at me
as she sees me enter, coke classic, in hand
If my other hand did not hold a ticket,
I’m sure she would refuse me.
She directs me to pour the liquid out, stipulating
the house is a museum
full of heirlooms  of another age.
We compromise,
my thirst left in the étagère in the hall;
this is how I spend my Mothers Day,
listening for old houses to whisper to me,
tell me their stories and memories.
Today I'm listening to Asahel's and indeed,
the lean efficient docent tells his tale,
and that of Estelle, of Asahel the Third,
of doting Sally …

“The docent won’t speak of me,” whispers the girl
standing in the sitting room

“She’ll show you my room
boast of its sink and marble fireplace.
Just as in any room, talk of the quilt,
the empty dresses on display;
I’m not an heirloom she tell.

I didn’t live here, you see,
not until I was fifty-three.
I dreamed of here, my loved ones
encased within its walls
And papa ... busy papa, sad papa.
Sally brought me home too late
I missed him. Still do”

The group moved on into the Study,
and the girl shadowed behind.
As they peered at old photographs, she
tinkered with the thermostat on the wall -
too focused on it for me to know it is her concern
“There’s a genealogy chart in the next room …
I missed it. I missed them all.”

As the group filed out dutifully - like children
under the charge of a stern governess
or patients under the custody
a burly orderly -
Eugenia noiselessly stood there in the doorway,
sizing me up as if for eternity
“You know what I mean, kindred spirit.
You will, too. If you’re sent to Boston,
I’ll share the house with you.”

And with a decided nod, she stepped to the side,
“Let’s walk together, shall we?
It’s nice not to be alone;
I’m so glad it’s tour day
She usually ends by playing a tube on the organ,
If we’ll lucky, Sally sometimes visits then.”

About this poem

Published in Write The Town 2016. Mid-Valley Poets Society.2016. A ghost story about Bush House, Salem Oregon

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Written on May 08, 2016

Submitted by Ariel on September 19, 2021

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:48 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 1,864
Words 358
Stanzas 7
Stanza Lengths 16, 2, 5, 7, 7, 9, 6


Ariel is a full-time Pacific Northwest poet, often participating at Oregon Open Mics events. She has been published in Gold Man Review, AIM, The Widow’s Handbook, and most recently in Terra Incognita, On The Platform Waiting and Free From Monsters. Ariel often collaborates in many Willamette Valley poetry/art projects and is a member of Oregon Poetry Association, Mid-Valley Poets Association, Willamette Writers and Poet. Her website is poetariel.net. more…

All Ariel poems | Ariel Books

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