“Apparitions” is one of the many poems in an endearing poetry book named Reuben’s Mobile by Sue Brannan Walker, former Poet Laureate of Alabama and English professor at the University of South Alabama. Walker uses the inspiration of Reuben, a real Harlequin Great Dane from Mobile, as a friendly fictional guide dog to the charms of Mobile’s many real locations. Each poem is beautifully illustrated by artist Kate Seawell. Ghost stories are always fun for children, so with Walker’s permission I have excerpted the poem below about Mobile’s ghosts from some of the area’s oldest haunts. My own four year-old son wanted me to keep reading when I stopped halfway through this book, and the second night, he asked to hear “the ghost story” again first. So, imagine if children could hear the poems and then visit the real places afterwards! After the poem, please browse the tourism links to find out how to visit the real Bragg-Mitchell Mansion and DAR House, along with other kid-friendly attractions in the area, like Battleship Memorial Park. Also, click on the link at the end to order the book!
by Sue Brannan Walker
Reuben hears ghosts stirring,
hears them convening
in Cathedral, Bienville,
and Washington Square,
listens as they sing “On Mobile Bay,”
and reminisce about the time that used to be.
The Lady of Bragg-Mitchell Mansion
mourns her lost lover, stares
down the path they used to walk
before first light disturbed approaching day.
Mrs. Quigley’s heels click, click
the hardwood floors of night.
Reuben catches sight of her in the hall
of her home on Government Street.
Mrs. Richards scolds eleven rowdy children
running through the rooms of DAR house.
The clocks chime, but time
seems to have stopped. It’s 1862.
In Seaman’s Bethel, a young girl
dresses in old costumes.
The sea captain pauses in the fly loft,
his voice rank with gloom.
Mobile loves its ghosts;
its ghosts love Mobile,
the scent of magnolias, the shades
of azalea red, the lavish gardens
and homes with iron lace.
Reuben is not afraid of ghosts
and seldom howls when he hears
them throwing dishes or raising
a ruckus on balmy August nights
to announce they’re still around.
He understands Mobile
would not be as exciting
were it not for spirits
who lean over balconies and grace
this place of history, of Southern hospitality,
prosperity, progress, and enduring charm.
Dr. Walker and her creative nonfiction writing class from the University of South Alabama will be the special guests at the upcoming 2014 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award Presentation at the Mobile Carnival Museum on October 15. Congressman Bradley Byrne will be presenting the third SELTI Tourism Fiction Award to Mary S. Palmer for her short story “Raisin’ Cain,” winner of the Mobile Bay SELTI Tourism Writing Contest. Along with her poetry and writing, Dr. Walker is helping to teach the next generation of university writers how to harness the unique power of fiction and poetry to introduce readers to real tourism attractions. Mobile is filled with beautiful settings to inspire tourism fiction writers.
Buy Reuben’s Mobile
Visit Negative Capability Press, publisher of Reuben’s Mobile and other great books