I Was Always Leaving

By Jean Nordhaus b. 1939 Jean Nordhaus
I was always leaving, I was
about to get up and go, I was
on my way, not sure where.
Somewhere else. Not here.
Nothing here was good enough.

It would be better there, where I
was going. Not sure how or why.
The dome I cowered under
would be raised, and I would be released
into my true life. I would meet there

the ones I was destined to meet.   
They would make an opening for me
among the flutes and boulders,
and I would be taken up. That this
might be a form of death

did not occur to me. I only know
that something held me back,
a doubt, a debt, a face I could not
leave behind. When the door
fell open, I did not go through.

Poem copyright ©2008 by Jean Nordhaus, whose most recent book of poems is Innocence, Ohio State University Press, 2006. Poem reprinted from The Gettysburg Review, Vol. 21, no. 4, Winter, 2008, by permission of Jean Nordhaus and the publisher.

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Poet Jean Nordhaus b. 1939

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Activities, Travels & Journeys

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Poet Jean Nordhaus earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Barnard College and a PhD in German literature from Yale University. She is the author of the poetry chapbook A Language of Hands (1982) as well as the collections A Bracelet of Lies (1987), The Porcelain Apes of Moses Mendelssohn (2002), and Innocence (2006).
Exploring the dramatic monologue in The Porcelain Apes of Moses Mendelssohn, Nordhaus depicts the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Activities, Travels & Journeys

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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