This poem is about visiting a shelter for homeless women in New York City.
Lies and Longing
Half the women are asleep on the floor
on pieces of cardboard.
One is face down under a blanket
with her feet and ankle bracelet showing.
Her spear leans against the wall by her head
where she can reach it.
The woman who sits on a chair won’t speak
because this is not her dress.
An old woman sings an Italian song in English
and says she wants her name in lights:
Faye Runaway. Tells about her grown children.
One asks for any kind of medicine.
One says she has a rock that means honor
and a piece of fur.
One woman’s feet are wrapped in rags.
One keeps talking about how fat she is
so nobody will know she’s pregnant.
They lie about getting letters.
One lies about a beautiful dead man.
One lies about Denver. Outside
it’s Thirtieth Street and hot and no sun.
from All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems(Gray Wolf Press, 2008), copyright © 2008 by Linda Gregg, used by permission of Graywolf Press.