There Is Hope

Natalie Eilbert
August 30, 2019
Photo: Tom van Hoogstraten

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).