Sarah Winchester Speaks
In 1884, rifle heir Sarah Winchester bought a six-room farmhouse in
California and began renovations designed to trap the vengeful spirits
she believed responsible for the deaths of her husband and daughter.
When she died in 1922, the Winchester Mystery House contained more
than 160 rooms and 40 staircases.
No one knew what haunted me:
soldiers bivouacking in the unfinished ballroom,
deer and buffalo stampeding parquet halls,
and every night my baby crying, always
from a different room. Choking on sawdust
and plaster, I drew stairs that stopped
at the ceiling, doors that opened
to blank walls or two-story drops, hallways
that doubled back. I gave my ghosts the best
of everything—Tiffany windows,
gold dinner service, thirteen-bulb chandeliers—
but couldn't put a single soul to rest
or rest myself. I died before I understood:
I haunted my house as much as they did.
William and the baby are waiting for me,
but I'm trapped by blind chimneys, skylights
stacked on top of each other, stairs I can't help
but climb, the maze I made to stay the dead.
Copyright © 2010 Carrie Shipers All rights reserved
from Ordinary Mourning