Claire Scott


I pick you up     my white-haired woman
               creased and milkless
                              & toss you          far into the future
where you will be spared
               rage      & resignation
the slow strangle of depression
               & unbounded bottles of booze
I bend down to gentle you         higher
               to make sure     you land at least
                              ten years away

Do you remember drawing hearts on our notebooks
with the initials of our latest love/practicing kissing
pillows so we would be sure to know/baby oil summers
on bikinied beaches/applications to medical school/
years slid past picked clean of purpose/ the world
swaying/illegible/steeped in remorse

Or should I put you        in a witness
           protection program           to save you
from days of      not eating           not caring
               if your bones glow in the dark
nights of             pills for wingless dreams
               swallowed by oblivion
I touch your cheek         delicate as fairy floss
               & give you          several thousand dollars
to start again    to begin a new life
               without the cold-boned
                              burden of me


My neurons are blinking out
like shooting stars
               and I never feel pain
               if only for a moment
a few many things falling away
like frail petals in the difference of time
               did I take two pink pills
               pay the Comcast bill
who cares

Someone stole my changer so I listen
to the weather channel all day
               a tsunami in Guatemala
               an earthquake in Pakistan
I can hardly hear anyway
               since the cat ate my ear aids
I forget where Cuba is
               where Costco is
               what I ate for supper
who cares

Useless neurons swept away
               like careless crumbs
               or winter leaves
no need to remember my neighbor’s name
               or the recipe for Thai noodle soup
               since my son closed shut the stove
my mind scrubbed
               and polished clean
               full of empty ready
for what life offers next


Do you notice facts are floating away
like helium balloons at a birthday?
               Only you don’t really care.

But you used to, didn’t you? Inconsolable
tears as the mylar shapes sailed off. Mothers
               shushing and wiping wet faces.

The capital of Nigeria, the names of the nine
justices, the amount of sugar in a cinnamon flan.
               Does it matter?

But it did once, didn’t it? When your house was filled
with crinkled aunts and clamorous kids,
               impatient for a cake to cool.

Are you leaving in bits and pieces, wearing
blurry drugstore glasses to avoid reading
               of another shot, another coffin. 

Do you forget to charge your hearing aids,
a relief not to hear the timpani of traffic
               or so sorry your test was positive.

My grandchildren are stashing stories
like winter nuts. Grammy, tell the story
               of stealing your sister’s car.

Tell the story of getting caught
cheating on a spelling test. Tell the story
               of getting lost in Death Valley.

Later they will recite them and the little
that is left will smile at the tales
               I am hearing for the first time.

And maybe the last. Just before I float
beyond the pale pull of gravity
               into a cloud-ruffled sky.

Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and The Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.