This poem is one well-suited to this time of year, only a few days from the witching hours of Halloween.
While I was sitting on one end of my front porch swing, the wind did a trick with the front door, causing it to open, although I was quite sure I had shut it completely. This gave the illusion of someone exiting onto the porch and it was easy enough to imagine that person walking over to occupy the seat beside me.
That incident, along with the discovery in our attic of a mysterious old leather baby shoe from an era well before I was born, brought this poem to life. I hope you enjoy it and enjoy this spooky season!
Haint blue is the name of certain shades of blue green used, according to custom, to paint the ceilings of front porches, in order to keep the ghosts, or “haints” away. Battenburg is a type of lace very popular in Victorian times.
For more of my unearthly work, see the Halloween Edition of my newsletter from October 2021.
A ghost sits beside me
Upon my front porch swing.
I know, ’cause the door opened wide.
T’was only the wind,
Say my friends, disbelieving,
That slid out the door from inside.
I expect they are right,
Though the house is one hundred years
Old and hides secrets in cracks,
And the mansion just opposite
Houses the ghost of a man
Burned until he was black.
And that sooty old ghost
And the maid from my house,
Whose old Battenburg hangs on my panes
Discuss their elopement
Upon my front porch swing
Quite late, for I hear squeakings strange.
Once I rose from my bed
For hot cocoa, to check,
But saw nothing but dust as it flew
Over porch tiles, a-swirling,
Like hoop skirts were twirling
Above, in an infinite loop.
And although she endures me,
The maiden obscures every
Effort I make to reveal
Who she is–who she was–
I’ve looked cover to cover
In books and in court archives, sealed.
She’s a nobody, clearly,
For nobody female
Was anyone worthy of mention,
Yet she had her own history,
Had her own feelings,
Her Sturm and her Drang and her tension.
And the forbidden romance,
The moments they stole
To hold hands and to rock in the dark–
Is it really my business?
For Death keeps its secrets,
And soon we will all There embark,
And the truth will be known.
With no shame or concern
We will patiently take in the view
Of their infinite beauty–
The love of two people–
The reason I’m painting my ceiling haint blue–
And the source of this old baby shoe.
Copyright 2022 Andrea LeDew
For a homeschool look at this time of year, read Is Halloween Over? For another swing on the porch, read Porch Swing.
I’ve never heard of “haint blue” for porch ceilings to keep away ghosts. The story behind our blue porch ceilings up here is to keep flies away. (How this is supposed to work, I have no idea.)
Here’s a blogpost on the practice in the South. It was news to me too, being a transplant from the Midwest myself. https://homespunhaints.com/haint-blue
Interesting background article! Thanks for passing it along.