Poets’ Corner: Bridger for Halloween

Poets’ Corner: Bridger for Halloween

Things that go bump on the mountain, well, who in Telluride doesn’t like moguls? Things that go bump in the night? Also a familiar, though perhaps less welcomed occurrence in town, where ghosts are known to haunt some of our favorite haunts: the New Sheridan Hotel; the Telluride Historical Museum, in the 19th century, the local hospital; the Silver Belle Building; the cemetery (duh). Some ghosts are fleeting images; others like to shake things up by playing the piano, rattling drawers, rolling dice. Some come from the ranks of Telluride’s ladies of night. Like Ella, celebrated in this poem by Kierstin Bridger, just in time for Halloween. Kierstin is a former winner of Telluride Arts’ Mark Fischer Poetry Prize and a regular contributor to Telluride Inside… and Out. She is also quite possibly the edgiest member of our family of fabulous writers/poets. This piece is included in Kierstin’s forthcoming book from Lithic Press: Demimonde!



Ascendant of Shadows


The first wails I heard,

ghosts biting at the heels—

specters shrill in death as in life.


It wasn’t just tricks they had to earn—

the price they could fetch for favors,

hard liquid sell,

the slick tongue they struck,

songs that earned their supper.


Ella’s presence most eloquent;

the air hung with her oak-cask laugh,

smoky, ruby cut perfume,

the stain of her cinnabar pout,

rustle of silk on steps, lines of lyric patois,

heel clicks, and silver echoes, her rings on doorframes.


There were others, in glassy ersatz jewels—

coarser women, nipping from novelty flasks,

cackling through graying teeth,

skirts of quiet wool, thunderous corsets,

and hair beneath tight, misaligned wigs.


This Demimonde, this underworld,

a state of liminal shadow,

of being sought in the dark,

banned in light,

of listening to voices living in cedar,

in the ash-white aspen.


It’s the blur we catch:

our other selves,

selves we’d want saved—

Perched as they are

in the glossy corner,

the spark of our unwavering eye.




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