Ann Taylor is a Professor of English at Salem State University in Salem, Mass. where she teaches both literature and writing courses. She has written two books on college composition, academic, and freelance essays, and a collection of personal essays, Watching Birds: Reflections on the Wing. Her first poetry book, The River Within, won first prize in the 2011 Cathlamet Poetry competition at Ravenna Press. A chapbook, Bound Each to Each, was published in 2013. Her collection, Héloïse, and Abélard: the Exquisite Truth, published in 2018, is based on the twelfth-century story of their lives, and her most recent collection, Sortings, was published by Dos Madres Press, in June of 2020. She is currently at work on a new collection of poems, called Taking Care.
I couldn’t fathom Grace’s frost
She skipped her son’s wedding,
and later offered only
her cheek for me,
her eldest grandchild, to kiss.
Ringed on hard chairs in her kitchen,
the family teased out Sunday
as Buzzy, the housecat, prowled
unpurring among our feet.
Into my teens, I had grown wintry
myself with her, and at her funeral,
wished to speed up the soprano.
I glanced at my father beside me,
saw him wipe his wire-rimmed glasses,
as a tear worked down his cheek.
When I patted the back of his hand,
I surprised myself with a tear –
the closest I ever came to warmth
for her, and that not even my own.
Mountain goats plod
dusty village plots,
the hunters’ trail,
their cubs frolicking,
Main Street stores –
pandemic soft news.
Harsher, the preview
of our time here done at last –
before abandoned houses,
city limits blended
with open fields,
lights dim, like us –
all reclaimed by wind,
An over-fed bobcat
sprawls the length
of a garden magnolia limb,
yawns toothily, just outside
the weathered front door,
twisted on its broken hinges.