A Metaphor for Hope
by Elizabeth Pottinger
HOPE is the middle child,
skinny but stout according to Pastor Jim,
who was thinking of every ugly size a girl can be,
which is every size.
Love is fun and flirty and HOPE
is the microwave meal in the deep freeze,
expired since 2013. HOPE is what tumbles down
from the cabinets when you open them,
toppling stacks of dry-rotted Tupperware,
a single stale cat treat rattling around inside one
like a tooth in a mouth (which is also HOPE).
Faith is a steady table and HOPE
is the self-help hardback under the leg.
HOPE has a table leg-shaped bruise
on her gaunt but puffy cheek she caresses
with her bony but fat fingers. There is so much HOPE here
it just about broke me, HOPE in the backyard,
memorial stone baked white by summer sun
for two young dead boys. HOPE is the never-forgetting.
HOPE sinks clammy and wet into the evening,
crumpling into bed with all her sweaty clothes
still stuck to her.
Lift the garden rock and a wriggling swarm of HOPE
pours in all directions. Become strategically blind
to HOPE rotting in the sink. At one time, HOPE was beside you,
HOPE was your next-door neighbor’s girlfriend holding your hand
while you gave birth in the backseat and screamed your guts out,
hers a muffled voice cutting through the blood, saying something,
you weren’t sure what.
Now HOPE clicks her jaw in the night. HOPE’s legs
scuttle up the walls. HOPE is the ceiling fan chain
battering the lightbulb. Open the sliding door
just enough and leave a bowl of water out there for HOPE.
Close it fully. Lock it tight. HOPE is the window-watcher
when the lights are on inside and you can’t see what’s looming
beyond black glass. Wipe off her handprint in the morning.
Eventually, she’ll get the picture.