‘Asking for Directions’ A Poem by Linda Gregg

In Memoriam

March 25, 2019  By Linda Gregg

Asking for Directions

We could have been mistaken for a married couple
riding on the train from Manhattan to Chicago
that last time we were together. I remember
looking out the window and praising the beauty
of the ordinary: the in-between places, the world
with its back turned to us, the small neglected
stations of our history. I slept across your
chest and stomach without asking permission
because they were the last hours. There was
a smell to the sheepskin lining of your new
Chinese vest that I didn’t recognize. I felt
it deliberately. I woke early and asked you
to come with me for coffee. You said, sleep more,
and I said we only had one hour and you came.
We didn’t say much after that. In the station,
you took your things and handed me the vest,
then left as we had planned. So you would have
ten minutes to meet your family and leave.
I stood by the seat dazed by exhaustion
and the absoluteness of the end, so still I was
aware of myself breathing. I put on the vest
and my coat, got my bag and, turning, saw you
through the dirty window standing outside looking
up at me. We looked at each other without any
expression at all. Invisible, unnoticed, still.
That moment is what I will tell of as proof
that you loved me permanently. After that I was
a woman alone carrying her bag, asking a worker
which direction to walk to find a taxi.

From All of It Singing, by Linda Gregg. Courtesy Graywolf Press, copyright Linda Gregg.

Linda Gregg
Linda Gregg
Linda Gregg was the author of seven books of poetry: Too Bright to See, Alma, The Sacraments of Desire, Chosen by the Lion, Things and Flesh, In the Middle Distance, and All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems<,em>, which received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, among others. Gregg has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She received the PEN/Voelcker Award in Poetry for achievement across her career.

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