Claire Scott 

Gentle Exit


They drift from room to room
My mother hovers near my father
            touches his sleeve
My aunt and uncle hold hands
            murmur about the past
All disputes settled in the
            fixed eye of eternity
My brother here too
            muffled voice pleading
Vfor more chocolate cake

My children tell me to see a doctor
            Risperdal  Seroquel
Have my vision checked
            take walks  try yoga
Join a book club  a bridge club
            a cooking club

I am relieved when they leave
            I have no interest in
Gossiping with old ladies in baggy
            pants and mustaches
Grousing about sclerotic knees
            refractory bowels, the children
            who never visit, who would?

I am relieved when they leave
            me with my web of
Whispering shadows
            a wilted woman
Tethered gently to this world
            living on weak tea and toast
Soon threads will fray                                   
            I will float in
Thin blue smoke
            fingers of shadows
            stroking my face



I have lost faith in atheism, that desiccated world with gone gods,
            missing gods, no gods, not really
Not even an emaciated one stranded on a cliff in Croatia
            stunted and silenced by
            howling winds of logic
Not even a god born when a star rises in the east
            wise men riding refractory camels
            shepherds waiting in the wings
I have lost faith in atheism, leaving me stranded
            desert worn, desert wasted
No Bach with stained glass windows
            wafts of incense stirring my soul.
Twenty one grams of stardust slowly
            wither in my breast
No bowing five times a day to Mecca or kissing a mezuzah
            as I leave each morning
I have lost faith in atheism, but my soul is stained with
            skepticism, shaken with disbelief
I will fly to Croatia to find the last shriveled god
            in the corner of a dim cave
We will sing and pray and weep the world
            back into being
Then the gods, the gods will return  
            wending their way
            through rents in time
Gods of wisdom, of water, of wine.




I Came Back

After years
Penitent prayerful
Knee crawling in Fatima
Stupa circling in Tibet
A pilgrim seeking

I came back with nothing
No scriptures
Or sutras
No mantras on ancient
Scrolls to chant
My way to serenity


My journal blank
Knees scabbed
Skirt stained
Tattered sandals
My body thin thin
Hollow eyes

No glint of
No visions in meditation
No glimpses of nirvana
No sign of stigmata
On my empty hands


I came back to the same world
Healthcare with holes
Wall Street bulging
Over Versace belts

And yet

My daughter’s belly
Round round
A child named Luna
Of the moon
The first crocus
Pushes through snow
Flaming yellow
My lover’s hands
Easy on my
Parched body

I remember
Whiffs of oblivion
In ancient temples
In reliquaries
Where chalk bones
Dust to dust
And I wrap myself
More tightly in this   
Tenuous life                           






Rented Breath


Our breath is rented
From a sightless god
A lease we never signed

Addressee unknown
Expiration date
Left blank

God playing roulette
On a board of braille
Fingers wandering
Over raised dots
Listening to Bach
A mighty fortress
Sung fortissimo
The orchestra blaring
A bulwark never failing

Smothering our pleas

Sudden raises in rent
Catch us breathless
We grab albuterol
Oxygen masks
Plead with a blind god
For borrowed breath
Promising to repay
With interest
Knowing full well

Breath can not be
Stored in cardboard boxes
Shelved for future use

And so we drag
Sacks of bones and
Fingernails from

Tree to tree
Our rented breath

Sighing our
Rented sighs
Sobbing rented tears

Hoping our lease
Won’t expire
Any time soon

His kingdom is forever

The roulette ball
Won’t settle in the
Slot with our name

Paying ever more
For each breath




Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has been nominated twice for the  Pushcart Prize. She was also a semi-finalist for the Pangaea Prize and the Atlantis Award. 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.