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Reading the Obituaries
Marilyn L. Taylor


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 Susan spends a sleepless night again.
  Ah, Debra, how can you be growing old?
   Jennifer, Michelle, your hands are cold.

This poem first appeared in THE FORMALIST, issue 11.2 (2000).
Used here with the author's permission.



Marilyn L. Taylor, former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin and the city of Milwaukee, is the author of three full-length collections of poetry (most recently, Outside the Frame: New and Selected Poems) and five poetry chapbooks. Her essays and poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals  and she has been awarded First Place in several national, international, and regional poetry competitions.  Marilyn is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and the Wisconsin Writers Association, and currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Third Wednesday  and Verse-Virtual poetry journals. Learn more about Marilyn who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, at  




Post New Comment:
The Judys are hanging on...just! Love this poem, so clever, so 'Marilyn':)
Posted 01/21/2015 01:40 PM
Sad to see that 'soon the scythe will sweep' for Patricia and my best friend, Diane from high school. Adieu, adieu, kind friends. Love this poem, Marilyn!!
Posted 01/20/2015 05:47 PM
Donal Mahoney:
A fine poem that makes me realize that I still wonder what happened to the Opals.
Posted 01/20/2015 02:19 PM
Marilyn L Taylor:
I'm grateful for these wonderful responses! Thanks, everybody.
Posted 01/20/2015 10:19 AM
A favorite Marilyn. I enjoyed it all over again.
Posted 01/20/2015 10:10 AM
Wilda Morris:
One of many of my favorites from Marilyn Taylor!
Posted 01/20/2015 09:07 AM
ed werstein:
Excellent poem from one of my favorite poets.
Posted 01/20/2015 08:39 AM
Glen Sorestad:
What an interesting perspective to take into one of the most universal of themes. A delight to read.
Posted 01/20/2015 08:17 AM
What a clever sonnet! The craftsmanship is first rate.
Posted 01/20/2015 08:08 AM
Thanks for not including us Marilyns just yet...good poem. M.Zelke-Windau
Posted 01/20/2015 07:07 AM
so so true...unnerving but great poem, Marilyn!
Posted 01/20/2015 07:07 AM
A bravissima moment--for all of us of a certain age. Thank you!
Posted 01/20/2015 06:15 AM

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