‘To The Mother of a Dead Marine’ – a poem about a mother’s loss


To The Mother of a Dead Marine


Marilyn L. Taylor



Your boy once touched me, yes. I knew you knew

when your wet, reddened gaze drilled into me,

groped through my clothes for signs, some residue

of him – some lusciousness of mine that he

had craved, that might have driven his desire

for things perilous, poisonous, out-of-bounds.

Could I have been the beast he rode to war?

The battle mounted in his sleep, the rounds

of ammunition draped like unblown blossoms

round his neck? Could I have somehow flung

myself against the wall of his obsessions,

leaving spells and curses on his tongue?

Your fingers tighten, ready to engage

the delicate hair-trigger of your rage.


Marilyn L. Taylor attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she earned a BS in mass communications, and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where she earned an MA in linguistics and a PhD in creative writing. She has published eight collections of poetry, most recently Step on a Crack (2016) and Going Wrong (2009). The Wisconsin poet laureate from 2009 to 2010, Taylor also served as the poet laureate of Milwaukee from 2004 to 2005.

After a long career teaching English for the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Taylor retired to teach several poetry workshops under the auspices of Lawrence University, Western Colorado University, Poetry-by-the-Sea in Madison, Connecticut, West Chester Unviersity, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is also a contributing editor for Verse-Virtual and Third Wednesday poetry journals.

I have published this poem as part of my series of poetry by feminist mothers as featured in the book

Borderlands and Crossroads’.   It is a singularly beautiful book for the range of issues covered in both poetry and prose form that affect mothers.


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