Against the Kitchen Wall

By Eleanor Ross Taylor 1920–2011
A mothball May.
        I lean against the kitchen wall.
        The sacred pear tree on the hill.
        The skyline, small green wheat
        waverunning with the wind.
From west to east the green’s
        spanned out by men
        on horseback and on foot,
        men with long staffs
        slow-motion, searching.
The saddles glint.
        What are they sweeping for?
        Why coming this direction?
        Are those staffs guns?
If  they are after quail, or hares,
        why is their fanning law-enforcement grim,
        as for a felon, a missing person, or
        one too imbecile to find her way?
One who laid waste
        the safe place by the kitchen wall,
        bankrupted her May day,
        malpracticed pear and gifted wheat?
I’m waiting, men.

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

Eleanor Ross Taylor, "Against the Kitchen Wall" 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 Relationships, Home Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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