artwork for Claire Scott's poem Dragging the Past

Dragging the Past
Claire Scott

Dragging the past like a bag of stones
              heavy and useless

an uncle with wandering hands
              a mother with bottles of booze

the marriage that couldn’t
              a husband who wouldn’t

a driver texting through a light
              a son with a damaged spine

the linger of love’s lost calls
              bells with silent tongues

rearranging stones like a kaleidoscope
              expecting a different result

some scientist’s definition of insanity
              Ptolemy? Newton? Edison?
              or was it the one with dandelion hair?

I check the mirrors for glimmers of madness
              ropey scars on my wrist
              Seroquel by my side

always the same stones
              trapped like amber bugs

Heraclitus was wrong
              you do step in the same stream
              again and again

where are the conjunctions
              to connect me to the future

a ladder of ands and therefores to climb up
              to a fresh dawn

(the universe yawns)

I slip on the past like a pair
              of soft slippers

squeezing life out of loss
              sucking the sour



Claire Scott’s Comments

What it is like to be stuck in the past with the same stories endlessly repeating? The poem reflects the speaker’s ambivalence about moving into the present and imagining a future.

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Frigg: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 60 | Fall/Winter 2022