Where Somebody Died

By Eleanor Ross Taylor 1920–2011
The self  refuses to appear
         in this bare place.
It fears that mute chair
         and the still window.
The sunlight scares it.
There might rise up a sound.
The door doesn’t like to move,
         and the crow out there
         hesitates; he knows
         a hole flown into by mistake
         would make a bite of   him.
What was sits standstill in the chair,
         hangs, stunned, against the dry-eyed light.
Nobody in sight.
Inanimate things, still  lifeless.
This room’s so empty
         I doubt I’m standing here;
         there can’t be room for me
         and total emptiness.
Only some far-off sounds persist.
The brute truck
         over the interstate.
The flames in the incinerator
         chewing his old vests.

NOTES: This poem is part of a special section of Poetry magazine's May issue

Eleanor Ross Taylor, "Where Somebody Died" from Captive Voices. Copyright © 2009 by Eleanor Ross Taylor. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press.

Source: Poetry (May 2010).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2010
 Eleanor Ross Taylor


Eleanor Ross Taylor was born in 1920 in Norwood, North Carolina, and graduated from Women’s College, now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, in 1942.  While studying at Vanderbilt University, Caroline and Allen Tate introduced her to novelist Peter Taylor, whom she would marry in 1943. Her poetry has been described as elegiac, lyric and feminine; writer Erica Howsare explains, “The southernness of her background . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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