I would sing a song for them all. This is for you, and this is for you. Then the moon would slide up over the hill, and I would be captured in her light like a growing thing, gone and complete.
~ Linda Gregg
If we have courage to live, we must also have the courage to die. Seldom has death been expressed as beautifully as Linda Gregg’s magnificent poem, “If Death Wants Me.” More than once, I’ve returned to this poem and more than once I have been touched by it.
If Death Wants Me
If death wants me, let it come.
I am here in a room at night on my own.
The pulsing and the crickets would go on.
Everything and the tall trees bathed in darkness
would continue. I am here with the lights on
writing my last words. If he does not come,
I will still be here doing the same thing.
Things change outside of me. Rain is falling
fast in the quiet. My love got on a boat
and it went away. I stayed. When the moon rose,
I tilted my head to the side when she did.
When people came, I felt a little crazy.
I did what I remembered. Made food.
Asked questions and responded. And they left.
I would go to sleep and wake in the sun.
Love the day as if it were a host of memories,
then go to the wall and wait.
That hour was perhaps the finest of all.
No people. No bright face. No geese walking home.
No night sounds at all. I was silent
with all things around coming and leaving
in abeyance on their journeying. I would sing
a song for them all. This is for you
and this is for you. And then the moon would slide up
over the hill and I would be captured in her light
like a growing thing, gone and complete.
About the Author
Linda Alouise Gregg (1942 – 2019) was an American poet. She published many several collections of poetry, including All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems (2008), a Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of 2008 and winner of the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award; In the Middle Distance (2006); Things and Flesh (1999), finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry; Chosen by the Lion (1995); Sacraments of Desire (1992); Alma (1985); and Too Bright to See (1981). Gregg’s lyrical poetry is often admired for its ability to discuss grief, desire, and longing with electrifying craftsmanship and poise. She was the winner of numerous Pushcart Prizes and other awards for writing. She was also the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellow.