Lauren Gives Me Directions

Lauren Gives Me Directions | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Map of Los Angeles, 1909. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

“Make a left at the second park,
Because you will come across two parks;
The first one is smaller, and there’s a little courtyard in the middle
With an old fountain, inlaid with a bird – a dove, I think –
A friend of mine once told me the future
Is authenticity, there, while I was crying,
But you must pass that one and turn left
At the end of the larger, uglier one.

“You will pass a shop, called only ‘J.P.,’
That sells the most beautiful scarves, in any season;
I always – you can just glance if you want,
But I always stop to look, though I have to avoid the manager
Because I told him that sometimes I – ha ha! – sometimes it takes all of my strength,
From the hospital, not to break that window!

“You will pass – and this is where I start to skip –
A morose jazz club,
Where the melancholy spills out onto the street
With the music and the smoke,
Where I once saw a bunch of children – this was years ago –
Five of them, all germinating verve and towheaded androgyny,
Skipping down the cobblestone, hand in hand, laughing, and it looked
As if the smokers outside were vermillion with jealousy –
Or maybe just the cold –
Anyway, I remember them and skip for them, now;
I think that’s important.

“It’s important that we keep skipping, or – well, anyway, that I do,
Because you will pass the casino, and the old men in the windows
At the machines, exchanging misery;
They will look at you, so look back, and they will spit at you, so never stop
Skipping; you must be resolute, or I – I must be resolute, when they see me.

“I think it is a cruel thing, to be happy.”

Glasses off, and on.

“Sorry, I hope you’re not in a rush,
It’s just so wonderful to see you smiling, and breathless,
And I know you pay attention, so I told you all that.
You look so happy here – like a beaming cartoon! Not like last year,
By the Mylar, in that dark apartment –
You look like you want to be free.”

Garrett Durbin is a UCLA English graduate and a freelance writer in Los Angeles; he writes to remember how.
Explore Related Content
, ,