Ghost Walk

This reading was recorded by Alessandro Mistrorigo at Phonodia LAB in Venice, Italy, on the 18th of April, 2014.

Read by Rita Dove on 18 April 2014

Ghost Walk

-----------------Château de Lavigny
-----------------August 1996

The neighbors who never
set foot in the castle
never tasted the truffles or château rosé
say she walks room to room
all night turning the lights on
and by day a cold wind blows
through the tiered gardens
pinching leaves from the withering rose

It is said in the village
she died of pure heartbreak
not a love turned away
but a love lasting only
as long as a lifetime
his life and no longer
not enough for the lady
hair red as a brushfire

that refused to go out
though it faded with years
to the orange of the coral
that lives in the sea
and still she was lovely
pale beauty became her
like pearls or a music box
like Kaffee mit Schlag

slim in an era when slim wasn't in fashion
she climbed into her tub
lined with bath salts and mirrors
chin-deep in scent
she would dream of a body
that could hold all of her
keep her afloat on this ocean
of good sense and breeding

she told no one not even
the one man she lived for
she put on her lipstick
she combed her brave hair
which she bore like a lantern
into the murmuring parlor
where they waited with smiles
and champagne on their lips

all night the waves pitching
all day the crows wheeling
through skies blue as his eyes
bright above the stunned lake
when he died she lay down
in their bed of silk tassels
in their bed of fringed curtains
and rose-colored satin

she lay down without tears
in that blushing cradle
and slept in that rocking
that cargo of sighs
each night the bed creaking
cast onto the waves
each dawn roses flaunting
their loose tongues of flame

she's a kind spirit
they assure us
down in the village
poor soul left behind
when the party was over
searching the rooms
for his laughter
and a last glass of wine

from On the Bus with Rosa Parks (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., © 1999 by Rita Dove). All rights reserved. Copying to other websites or any kind of reprint is a violation of international copyright laws and strictly forbidden.

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