Marilyn L. Taylor
NOTE: The older I get, the more my poems seem to turn to thoughts of mortality, especially when I find myself reading the obituaries in the Sunday paper. After having indulged this habit for years (it’s something old people do, kids), I discovered that one can often tell approximately how old the deceased was—especially in the case of a woman—at the end of her life, simply by noting her name. I mulled that over for a few months and came up with the sonnet below. Sorry if your name is included; I have no dark motives.
Reading the Obituaries
Now the Barbaras have begun to die,
trailing their older sisters to the grave,
the Helens, Margies, Nans—who said goodbye
just days ago, it seems, taking their leave
a step or two behind the hooded girls
who bloomed and withered with the century—
the Dorotheas, Eleanors and Pearls
now swaying on the edge of memory.
Soon, soon, the scythe will sweep for Jeanne
and Angela, Patricia and Diane—
pause, and return for Karen and Christine
while Nancy spends a sleepless night again.
Ah, Debra, how can you be growing old?
Jennifer, Michelle, your hands are cold.
Originally published in The Formalist
© 2018 Marilyn L. Taylor
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