Ghosts Of The Catskills Poem by David Welch

Ghosts Of The Catskills

I stand inside a ballroom that stretches long before me,
it is a sitting room right now, formal chairs and setees,
tall windows stretch ceiling to floor, twice as tall as a man,
with velvet drapes sent from Europe to make it all so grand,
floral tile across the floor in patterns intricate,
gas chandeliers of crystal cut, the light dances and flits,
later tonight the chairs will go and a quartet with play,
men with starched collars will arrive to dance the night away
with women in full hoop dresses, to lively strings they twirl,
young men will gaze at debutants, fresh-faced upon the world.

I sit inside a dinning room, tables of finest wood,
polished silver besides my plate, nothing less would be good,
the waiters in their coat and tails bring me coffee or wine,
and more courses than I can count, at just the proper time,
while I speak with these mustached men just arrived from New York,
then marvel at the savory rue they lay upon the pork,
the smell of pipe tobacco reins, the harsh bite of cigars,
our women smoke their cigarettes from holders stretching far,
word is they have a fine desert, that they have made ice cream,
to have that in these mountains rough…they've really made the scene.

I stand on the broad piazza, by endless columns square,
at the edge of the great plateau, to take the mountain air,
the broad Hudson unfolds below, flanked by green, rolling farms,
true peace comes in this lofty place far above the alarms,
people sit in the rocking chairs, reading their serials,
penny dreadfuls from old London, the latest dime novel,
though some hide them when folks walk by, appearance must be kept,
let people think they read Shakespeare, I hear that brings you ‘depth, '
the gardens up in the yard, tended well for color,
and nearby roses sprout along a long, arching arbor.

I walk across a small meadow, gets smaller every year,
way back in the eighteen nineties a great hotel stood here,
a place where the New Yorkers fled before the age of flight,
when they had only train and horse to see they got here right.
It burned down eighty years ago, it's neighbors shared that fate,
and all I know of what stood here were pictures made on plates,
that bedazzaled and gilded age long ago left this plain,
a few bits of stone foundation are now all that remains,
it's images and articles, that's where it now exists,
nature has reclaimed everything...yet the ghosts still persist.

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