Ghosts of the Empress Hotel
No wonder they are here. Everyone knows
ghosts choose to linger where stones remain
cold despite the sun. Where ivy reaches
starving arms toward eaves.
In rose gardens and courtyards, rooms
with gabled windows that face the sea.
Where hallways stretch on
forever and smell like the dusty breath
of old books. In servant passages behind walls
and laundry tunnels underground.
Anywhere it is easy to get lost.
No wonder doors slam on their own,
carved armoires move, paintings of queens
crash to the floor. No wonder
silver spoons and antique tea menus
vanish from their glass case, only to return,
and a child’s laughter chimes through the oldest wing
at certain times of day. No wonder
a maid in outdated uniform still cleans
and a construction worker in the west tower
swings from the beam where he hung himself.
But what do they want from this place?
More time, they are trying to tell us. Time to steal
through the halls in their stocking feet,
slide down banisters and spin across the polished
floor of the ballroom, chandeliers raining
crystalline music in their wake. Time to explore
the gardens and feel the darkest roses
bloom in their hands. Then watch the sea
turn to sterling at nightfall, the moon form
a glowing corridor across the waves.
A little more time, they say.
Rebekah Rempel studied creative writing at the University of Victoria. Her poems have appeared in the anthologies Force Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia (Mother Tongue Publishing) and Unfurled: Collected Poetry from Northern BC Women (Caitlin Press), as well as the journals Contemporary Verse 2, Prairie Fire, Room, Lake, Transition, Cactus Heart Press, One Throne Magazine, and Rose Red Review.