Ann Taylor

Gallows Hill, Salem

Today it’s stubble pine,
iced grass whisking
circles in snow drifts,
stag-horn sumac’s
red against white.

A redtail rises
against the darkening sun,
A crow tries to call,
and an early robin clings
to a bare branch, does not . . .
should not . . . sing.

Snow smoothes rough granite
folded over like the scroll
that named them witches
and this the place to damn them –
hints of the hangings’ horror.

The couple excavated on the Mantua Road
lying eye to eye,
knees bent toward one another,
hand resting open
on an unflinching shoulder,
are about to share a kiss.

Not the usual memento mori –
skull on the saint’s desk,
gravestone’s blank-eyed mask,
anatomy class study bones –
they look like lovers.

We are teased to imagine,
even now to grieve –
good teeth, shapely heads,
sturdy spines –
the gravediggers’ care.

(In 2007, archeologists discovered a double burial of a couple in a grave between 5,000 and 6,000 years old, and in a pose never found before.)

Stille Nacht, 1914

Small trees candle the trenches
of No-Man’s Land,
and crude posters promise,
“You no shoot, we no shoot!”

Drawn by “O Christmas Tree” on one side
and “O Tannenbaum,” on the other,
they help one another bury their own,
trade beer for fags,
launch the soccer ball
through unsure goals
staked with muddy helmets,

until the new year
deepens entrenchment,
erases all signs of fraternity,
except for small trees
placed prominently
on the graves of the dead.


Ann Taylor is a Professor of English at Salem State University in Salem, Mass. where she teaches writing and literature courses, including Poetry Writing, Writing about Nature, plus English Literature, Arthurian Literature, The Art of the Essay, Modern and Contemporary Poetry, and Poetry Analysis. She has written two books on college composition, academic and free-lance essays, and a collection of personal essays, Watching Birds: Reflections on the Wing (Ragged Mountain/McGraw Hill). She has had poems published or accepted recently in such journals as Arion, Aurorean, Ellipsis, The Dalhousie Review, Appalachia, Del Sol Review, Snowy Egret, and Classical and Modern Literature, and in 2011, she won first place in the Cathlamet Prize sponsored by Ravenna Press, for her poetry book, The River Within. She lives in Woburn, Mass. with her husband, Francis Blessington.


About Copperfield

Since 2000, The Copperfield Review has been a leading market for short historical fiction. Copperfield was named one of the top sites for new writers by Writer's Digest and it is the winner of the Books and Authors Award for Literary Excellence. We publish short historical fiction as well as history-based nonfiction, poetry, reviews, and interviews.
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