Two Poems by Laura Scott

To be one of them

To be a link in that necklace of sisters, to flit between them
and forget sometimes which one I am, the oldest, or the youngest,

or the one in between. To slide into their space and find my way
into the room they spend so much time in talking and talking,

to feel the pattern in the threadbare rug under the sole of my black
lace-up boots, feel its colours fade and bleed as I pace up and down

flinging out my lines as if I were scattering seeds into the stalls before I flop
down into a chair and sigh or maybe laugh. To watch the staircase

fold and collapse under the weight of all our talked thoughts piled up
on each other like a litter of puppies scrambling for milk, to talk and talk

to slow life’s ruin down by playing it backwards and to love
the sound of it, the sound of longing seeping in and out

of me and everyone around me in that room on that stage
and in that theatre and to know that really, that’s all there is.

Short Story

to travel with him would be simple misery

There’s a story about Chekhov I love and I’m not sure why,
how the night before he left for Sakhalin he was terrified of
being saddled with a bore for a travelling companion and because
the journey was long, really long, three whole months long,
all the way East as far as you could go across Russia’s great girth,
he had to do something, but what? Lacking whatever that trait is,
the one that would have allowed him to just say no, he put out
a story instead, or rather urged a friend to unleash it discreetly,
and apparently reluctantly into the right circles, to let it be known
that although everyone covered up for him, the famous writer
was in fact a drunk and a swindler, a nihilist actually, and, to crown it
all in a final audacious swap, a bore, and if the truth were known,
nobody in their right mind would want to sit next to him. And the story
was so perfect, so balanced between telling and withholding, it worked.

Laura Scott’s collection So Many Rooms was published by Carcanet in 2019. It won the Seamus Heaney Prize in 2020. Twitter @LauraScott112