I stand, pale fine hands clasped over my long skirt and white starched apron –
docent to strangers, in the kitchen of an ancient Vermont home.
My posture is perfect, my waist thin, the room smells of lavender and sage.

We want to take the tour now. We don’t have much time,
says a man, pushing his large frame through the delicate door,
his socks-in-sandals offensive, his wife, an afterthought.

I gesture, open palmed, to the sign that says: Tours begin on the hour.
But there’s no one else here, he grumbles.
I smile and suggest the bookstore might be of interest.

It’s quiet again, the ticking clock pings and grinds out the quarter hour.
I adjust the bowl and the milk jug on the wooden plank table,
quite certain they had not moved from where I had placed them before.

Perhaps this time I will choose to tell them another story,
and speak of dismemberments in the kitchen,
soldiers mounting women in the pantry,

the wails of mothers searching for their children lost in raids,
the rattling of their bones trapped behind the fireplace,
the thrilling whispers and touches I sense when the room is uncommonly still.

Socks-in-sandals returns, spot on the hour.
I turn around my spine to face them, my fingers toying with the forged shears
in the pocket of my starched apron. I begin my tour exactly as I always will.

*With thanks to Emily Howe, docent at William Morrill Homestead in Strafford, Vermont, who inspired this poem and from whom I unabashedly stole the title.  She is, of course, totally non-creepy and such elements are the odd embellishments of the author alone.

Image credit:Debbie Fan

Susan is new to poetry. Poetry is both a means for sense of the world and a way to harken back to fond memories of writing extensively in school. She and her partner, Morgan Driscoll, are in the process of publishing a collection of poems about writing poetry.  It is  irreverently titled Up Your Ars Poetica. Due out in Fall 2023.