A Faint Hint (poem)

Posted by ractrose on 25 May 2022 in Art, Poems

Civil War photo, Library of Congress, Public Domain, 1864




A Faint Hint


Her view, behind a curtain of cobweb

was of teeshirt-wearers tromping, a show of courage

talking overloud. The girl of them shrieked.

The player of ghost wished girls would not.

One customer would dare it, soon

Sooner if she wriggled her wig and shawl

How lame, the actor sighed at herself

Where is your story? Isn’t this dumb gig improv?

Begin as you do, and give her a name

Give her an age, make her married or single

Let dots on the map tell her growing-up, her becoming

What comes to mind is from a book

On the actor’s bedstand, a dame of the stage

content in her retirement

Until Inspector Carverson pops up in her garden

She rises, from deadheading hydrangea

to his proposal

‘You were born to the role, my dear madam. The fellow

whose confession you must extract, was an admirer of yours, in your day.’

‘Oh’ Mrs. Stone-Welles says, ‘our boy is as old as that? You doubt he may not

fall into the grave, still burdened with his secret?

I see that time is of the essence. I shall ask my maid to pack at once.’

Is it sin to steal the author’s dialogue?

The story is one of those rich ones, no straight roads

to distract from crooked ones, no small lives, but only

Large, eccentric ones

Blue lights that track along the floor

Stick-ons that go on battery

Go out, a difficult-to-manage thing

For a human agent

Giggles muffle into hush

And the haunted house is very dark


But compelled by a feeling of seeing with closed eyes

The actor turns to a flight of steps

a short one, seven or six

Limestone, rising melancholy coldness

Black mold and her first color, green of moss

And the tree where lightning

in randomness

Took three forgotten lives

A day of picnics it had been

And sheets hung to dry

And bored youth too hemmed by elders

Burning hours walking thin forest

Searching for pawpaws, and Juneberry trees

to dig and carry to the orchard


I had a spade in hand

Somehow it flew to fix itself upright

Here, here, come along, I’ll show you the spot

Not that it matters. My point is that for a stranger

these little details of horror

Are so often riveting, I confess it of myself

When I was fifteen, I never thought of dying

Of death, my eventual possession

I read in my father’s newspaper of railroad victims

cut in two

charred corpses discovered in smoldering ruins

I thrilled


And finally, the spark of mischief’

Mischief, with an age-old sorrowing heart

An angel’s heart, that has seen the world

and dies immortal, for forgiveness of it

Brings an outline to the actor’s vision

Boy or girl, she cannot tell

The ghost, with lips closed, smiles like an imp

So, here!

A pitiful sight, that divot

where Mother planted flowers, all that’s left

Our father kept it up, those few years between

her going and his


Do you want me, the actor asks

And finds herself in fog and smoke

Something has gone wrong with the house

Do you want me to come back, put daffodils in?




A Faint Hint

Pastel and pen drawing of tree trunkUncollected Poems
















(2022, Stephanie Foster)




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