#WomenReadWomen2019 Adult Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes

[Poetry Friday] “Past” and “Future” by Maggie Smith

The future will be full of you.


Fats here.

The first month of the year is almost over. For the last three Poetry Fridays, I have shared poems by Ohio poet, Maggie Smith, from her poetry collection, Good Bones. Today, I’m featuring two poems—one is an excerpt, the other full. In reading these poems, I imagined Smith’s children asking her the questions: What is the past? What is the future? Her answers could not have been more brilliant and beautiful.


Poetry Friday round-up is hosted by Tara at Going to Walden!



What is the past?

We needed a word for everything before.
The past is not all distant. We can stand at its edge,
watching the waves do the backbreaking work
of pulling, pulling away. From the shore, the past
seems to go on forever, because it does. We say
it was a different time, but all times are different.
This one, for instance. And again, this one.


What is the future?

Everything that hasn’t happened yet, the future
is tomorrow and next year and when you’re old
but also in a minute or two, when I’m through
answering. The future is nothing I imagined
as a child: no jet packs, no conveyor-belt sidewalks,
no bell-jarred cities at the bottom of the sea.
The trick of the future is that it’s empty,
a cup before you pour the water. The future
is a waiting cup, and for all it knows, you’ll fill it
with milk instead. You’re thirsty. Every minute
carries you forward, conveys you, into a space
you fill. I mean the future will be full of you.
It’s one step beyond the step you’re taking now.
What you’ll say next until you say it.


Fats is the Assistant Manager for Circulation Services at the Wayne County Public Library in Wooster, Ohio. She considers herself a reader of all sorts, although she needs to work on her non-fiction reading. Fats likes a good mystery but is not too fond of thrillers. She takes book hoarding seriously and enjoys collecting bookmarks and tote bags. When she is not reading, Fats likes to shop pet apparel for her cat Penny (who absolutely loathes it).

8 comments on “[Poetry Friday] “Past” and “Future” by Maggie Smith

  1. Fats, this line makes me want to write a golden shovel poem: “The future
    is a waiting cup.” That is just a wonderful thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Both poems really make you think! Beautiful post

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Both poems reveal a reflective message. Poets are often at their most compelling when they approach writing from this perspective, so I thank you for sharing words that have reminded me once more of this important consideration Fats.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Every minute
    carries you forward, conveys you, into a space
    you fill. I mean the future will be full of you.
    There are so many words and lines in this poem that carry so much weight. So very good.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. maryleehahn

    You are helping me to fall in love with Maggie Smith’s poetry!! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kay Mcgriff

    That empty future contains so many possibilities. I love both these poems. Thanks for sharing.


  7. I can imagine sharing these questions with children, I’m sure they would come up with some creative responses!

    Liked by 1 person

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