The Maier Museum of Art
at Randolph College

“Haunted House” by Carolyn Krieter- Foronda

Mabel Dwight, The Haunted House, 1929, watercolor on paper.

Mabel Dwight, The Haunted House, 1929, watercolor on paper. Acquired by Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.

after Mabel Dwight’s The Haunted House

Stucco walls of the old house lean
into dusk, swollen with desire.
Vines swirl serpentine tendrils
around shutters, arched and sullen.

A doleful salute: air whistles
through the veranda’s grillwork,
spins, then swivels as if someone
lurks nearby. Footsteps, heavy,

tramp the lawn. The vaulted truth
of it all: amid ghostly remnants
of lordly ceilings and transom
doors, a grand piano flings its chorus

into a descending chill. Owls chitter.
Ruthless bats hide in eaves.
Do not ignore the discernible.
A vulture, rasping in a muscular oak,

flaps its wings against bark. Shrill
chords rise like a hoard of secrets.
Don’t overlook the windows—
not the lamp-lit dormers

or second-floor panes, spooling
brightness onto overgrown grass.
Onto you, unaware of what howls
in plumed shadows beneath trees.

Don’t miss the obvious. Dark eyes
peer out of the parlor and bedroom
windows. Apparitions long for release
from deadly hurtles down a stairwell.

And the birds—airy spirits
of the afterworld—do not miss
their ascent carrying the shadowy
forms aloft like emulated saints.


Dr. Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda served as Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2006-2008. She has published five books of poetry, and her poems have been nominated for six Pushcart Prizes Her work has been included in numerous magazines, including An Endless Skyway, an anthology of poems by U.S. State Poets Laureate. Her awards include five grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and a Resolution of Appreciation from the State Board of Education for her contributions as Poet Laureate of Virginia.