Penelope Scambly Schott


Every hour the universe expands a billion miles in all directions;
no wonder I can never catch up.
Back when I ran on the beach
in my brown and white saddle shoes, the tiniest birds
skittered faster than I did until they floated
in broken foam.

          What would I be when I grew up?
          A quark in the dark, says Dr. Seuss.

Tonight the rain sings on my metal roof.
The dog snores in my warm bed.
So many people I loved are dead.

          What will I be when I grow up?
          An ancestor.
          A pile of rubble for a dumpster.
          A skitterer along edges.

Someday I will stop running. I will turn into one word
that means everything, that means
the birds and the dog and the green metal roof that never leaks and
the waves that nobody turns off at night, and how glad I am
that the Chinese invented paper
and that Uniball makes ballpoint pens
so I can tell you, whoever you are who might read this,
how consciousness contains giraffes and algae and comets
and galaxies so new that any minute now
their newest stars are about to switch on
if you just wait.

In any language, that word.

Author Portrait

Penelope Scambly Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her newest books are Serpent Love: A Mother-Daughter Epic, an exploration of a crisis between mother and adult daughter, and a collection called Bailing the River, poems about what can and can’t be accomplished in this one life. Penelope lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon, where she teaches an annual poetry workshop.

View the website of Penelope Scambly Schott