In what I think is a dream,
I look at some manifestation of the past
& say, I know you’re not real. Someone has to.
As most dream-things do, the past
shapeshifts, reconstitutes itself with new
eyes & a new haircut—the past
made over—& then I forget its name.
I forget what I’m doing with the past.
What is that joke about the river?
It’s not really a joke, no more than the past
is really past—the one about water never
being the same water. As it flows past,
the river’s current—now that’s a joke—
is always flowing now, now, now. Past
seven, when I wake from what I think
is a dream—a dream where I tell the past
the truth about itself—it is the present
as it always is. There is no past.
Copyright © 2018 Maggie Smith. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.