National Poetry Month: Mrs. Winchester

Originally published on, this poem has had a series of reprints. (It eventually appeared on my blog over 10 years ago.) It inspired a screenplay that’s been a quarterfinalist at Austin Film Festival and a finalist at Shriekfest. May I present one of my favorites…

Mrs. Winchester

I am always building
like Mrs. Winchester
my fingers ever reaching
steeple and strut
for who-knows-what
and all my doors open
to a sheer drop
as I blindly press my walls
beyond the copper gates
and into the briny blankets
smothering the wind,
searching the breezes
for him…
for you.

Mine will be an empty house,
not for dwelling
but for touring,
lace and bed
roped off from their touch
a spectacle
my wood floor splintering
from their stares
under the weight of their wonder
for I’ve built a house
that even I cannot live in
and cursed I wander
the darker hours
from bed to bed
never resting
hammers sinking
nails of grief and fear
lips tasting
leaded glass
as if this frozen pane
were you
if only they knew
it’s your voice at midnight
that tells me where
to build each gable, rail, and stair…

I’ll drive them all away
before they discover
my madness
like the servant’s hall
is north by northwest
but until then
add another window
Mrs. Winchester
because when the oak doors shut
there will be
no more light.

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