Natalie Eilbert’s poem is preoccupied with the conditional tense. It proceeds in couplets, doublings that summon the past and the future, what might be and what would have been, the fork in every path. If, as the title promises, “There Is Hope,” it is not a facile hope that turns us away from the world’s violence. Rather, it is a reminder that what is precarious in us might be evidence of another way. Hope here is a difficult thing—a deep engagement with what is, such that it recovers the map of possibility lodged inside the here and now.
– Claire Schwartz
There Is Hope
I have settled into myself. A sediment no longer clouds
up in liquid bloom. In stillness, I see my particulates.
I don’t know if it’s the same for you. M. tells me no one
should be able to undermine my power, but isn’t power
drawn from the threat of being thrown over? Take
this bridge. Men engineered a line over water to connect
two futures. I walk a bridge toward a future so slowly,
a wisteria tracing the air for animal warmth. I no longer
want to be animal warmth. Rarely does a bridge collapse.
Pedestrians walk with purpose across time, from one
future to another. We line up to our loneliness here,
alone, alive, to see the spectacle of it. The shine of sun
over the surface of a river. Rarely do jumpers die
from drowning. The water is a splitting surface. The fall
another line connecting futures. The body stops at
75 miles an hour, the organs jolt forward and sever.
A man wrapped in soiled blankets sleeps, two dots
and a line slacking futures. The sun shines over the river.
On impact, the ribs break. The surface as hard as the past
we cannot fix. I could have loved you fiercely.
Natalie Eilbert is the author of Indictus (Noemi Press, 2018) and Swan Feast (Bloof Books, 2015).