My First Villanelle: Towards Harris

desk wSwq
Found sticky note

But first a note from my desk…

 

This villanelle came to me during my first week at a new job on a cold, dark, foggy February morning.  With steel toe boots on and a budgeted $7 for travel and lunch in my jean pocket, I search for the bus stop on Harris to catch the 401 leaving at 6:30 a.m.  Last year I temped at SEVEN factories, now I walk towards number eight. The fog is another unknown-known waiting for me.

It felt like the ghosts of Fairhaven were dancing with me as I hiked through the fog, perhaps even poking fun at the site of a person up too early, with the weight of the world on her shoulders.  Ghost have no weight.  They do not need bus tickets, boots or money. Lazy-ass ghosts.

The overwhelming sense that I was NOT alone in that fog bank, spurred an “Our Father” out of me… and now I have a poem.

This is my first villanelle.  Think I’m gonna write another.

Thanks for your visit with me as I travel the crust of the orb,
~SPL

 


ghost o1_500Towards Harris

by Shannon Laws

One block before the dawn, heaven hides the fright
Ghosts match-step with me in curbside play
My breath sends a prayer into the air

I stride into Fairhaven’s ambered light
Behind me stirs a promise for the day
My lips form a poem too loaded to bear

Toward the factory stand steel and might
A slit of red that seeks the bay
My breath sends a prayer into the air

Ancestor songs sing “Run, freeze and fight!
Be a footed fish not a whale of clay.”
My lips form a poem too loaded to bear

Eyes search each block for tints of light
Seek sticky hope to fix and stay
My breath sends a prayer into the air

Blue ribbon peeks beneath band of night
Black evergreens promise the fog away
My breath sends a prayer into the air
My lips form a poem too loaded to bear

 

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Maggie the Ghost

Have you ever worked with a ghost?
One summer, I worked on a Washington island as a housekeeper at a large inn that is playfully haunted by “Maggie”.  My encounters with the ghost were so gentle, she is an inspiration for my book scheduled to be released 2015.
The Inn wasn’t very old.  You’d expect a few ghosties in ancient buildings, but this fairly new island-craftsman seems the last place for a spirit to haunt.  The inn has beautiful contemporary cabin accents, and is set near a lake that mists up in the early summer mornings.  Walking around the lodge and grounds the spirit of the place is light and inspiring.  It has a magical feel to it, as if hidden from sight wood gnomes and nymphs dance around the ferns, and fairy princes ride dragon flies through the cedar and fir forest.
Red Hair and Footprints
My first encounter with the ghost was in the manifestation of long red hairs.  After cleaning a tub or sink, leaving the room and returning with clean towels, a bright red hair would sometimes waved “Hello” at me, all laid back resting on the clean white surface.  The third or fourth “Hello”, I started to calculate the odds of how many red-headed guests visited.  When I shared my findings with the house manager, she confirmed, it was the ghost.
Anything strange like that was given to the lady ghost’s credit.  The staff believes her to be an early pioneer woman, whose spirit wandered into the lodge attracted by the lights and noise.  One day we decided to give her a name.  We all felt like it was an “M” name, so she was named Maggie.  Maggie has a great sense of humor, locking staff and guest out of the rooms, turning on the heat in summer, but her specialty is leaving barefoot footprints on mopped floors.
Maggie’s prints came to visit me one day.  Two bare foot marks appeared on either side of the toilet, toes facing out, on my newly mopped floor.  When I saw the foot marks, I knew it was the lodge ghost!  Just to be sure, I took a stiff brush and cleaner to the area.  No success.  The marks could not be brushed off.  Before the new guests arrived I checked the bathroom floor a last time.  The floor now dry, the footprints dissipated properly, as any nice ghost would do.  What a lady!
Thank you Maggie, for cleaning up your mess.  You’re alright in my book.
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Poetry: September Bellingham

Down the hill my city sits
Waves nip at its hair
Freeway scratches the belly
Mountains hold down its hip
Low mist rolled in early,
refuses to leave this cove
Down into the clouds I walk,
floating up into a subdued world
Here exhales are marked,
Talk can be seen
Sun baths buildings
in a peach-warm glow
as it fights the floating moisture
that crowns my
September Bellingham
Noon-thirty,
visibility still only four blocks.
The sun burns while seagulls
dance in the sky

Photo by Matthew Anderson/WWU
Bellingham in morning fog, September 2012

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