Poetry by Claire Scott



Just now on the way to the market
you know the one on the corner
with the misspelled signs
barbaqued chicken   $4.99 a pound
appricots   $5 a dozen
I saw a woman straggling down the street
back and forth in the mizzled fog
burrowing through trash bins
collecting cans & bottles &
crumpled newspapers
her face full of pleats & sags
the soles of her sandals flapping
slip/slapping on the damp pavement
she wore three dowdy sweaters
over a too-big denim skirt
she smelled of gin & garlic & piss &
sputtered under her breath
accusations? apologies? obscenities?
she spat through missing teeth
what story was she telling
two steps forward, one back in
some stammering gavotte
     what story was it?

I prayed to Buddha to help her
to bring her heart solace
to give her a new skirt &
stockings without holes
perhaps a cup of hot coffee
with a cinnamon scone
I bought appricots & two
barbaqued chickens @ $4.99 a pound
she was still there when I left
her eyes slitted with what?
despair? fear? exhaustion?
her face full of fog’s drizzle
     or could it be tears?

I hold my package tight
against my chest & step firmly
     across the street



Live in the present
say the Buddhists with their
saffron robes and shiny heads
sitting silently for days
hands in cosmic mudra
immersed in the infinite
emptiness of now
live in the present they say

What of IV’s, catheters, morphine
dripping slowly through chilled veins
     tick tock
grinding pain in my stomach
bruises over my body
only water on the tip of a sponge
offered by a frazzled nurse
only a mouth full of sores
the taste of sulfur on my tongue
only hair falling out by the fistful
a forlorn walker by my bed
my body barely legible under
starched sheets

But still I have the past
asters blooming each spring
star-shaped purple heads
nodding in morning’s breeze
bowls of steaming stew
fragrant with basil and sage
children on swings shouting
     higher higher
sweet sex at night when
moths whisper

still I have a past where
memories linger and console
a past today’s tubes don’t touch
today’s torment doesn’t reach
my hands in a mudra of remembrance
my wilted head almost bald
the spaceless space of the past
is where I want to be
     right now



Boxes of fading photos stuffed in the back of your closet
or in green garbage bags in your basement tied with twist ties
or placed on the highest shelf, the shelf you can’t reach without a ladder

photos of your grandparents on their trip to Greece
she: a green silk dress with long sleeves and a knee-length skirt
a twisting strand of pearls that is probably fake

he: a wool tweed suit with notched labels and two sets of flap pockets
perhaps one day a great-great grandchild obsessed with genealogy
will find the faded photos and bring them back to life

but for now it is Sunday supper, your kids and grandkids around the table
four boys in Warriors t-shirts brandishing cell phones
arguing, pushing, shoving, frantically thumbing their miniscule keyboards

one takes your picture
you: faded jeans and a grey sweatshirt
you: distressed hair and no makeup

a picture that will never live in the back of a drawer or the bottom of a box
waiting for a curious descendant to bring it to life
one day simply deleted with a casual finger to free up new space

for photos of girlfriends, boyfriends, waterfalls and windmills
you: dissolved, dissipated, dispersed into space
you: disappeared forever.

claire for book copy.jpgClaire Scott is an award winning poet who has been nominated twice for the  Pushcart Prize. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Healing Muse and Vine Leaves Literary Journal among others. Her first book of poetry, Waiting to be Called, was published in 2015. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.


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