rogers-s-hope

Hope


Poetry by Steven Rogers

Hope is not the thing with feathers.
It’s the weight of his sleep
when I was soft rocking
singing with sways slunk low
below the glows of the piggy night lamp
my aching arms
like splintered wasps
skewering my muscles

I counted to three hundred —
one hundred for each year of his life —
his breath soft highs and sighs
slow like warm silk drifts ¬
on the hairs of my arm

Then a thought
repulsive split gavelled
stabs into me
this is what he would look like if he was dead.
In my arms.
No, not what it feels like.
Just what it looks like

I understand I’m sickened to think this
with the shameful bravado
of such willing awfulness

I try to reason that it's just the shape
of my monstrous fear
with which I’m manacled down
it’s just my nauseous unconscious 
poking it’s nose in to make a suppose
could I by just thinking it
make it corporal?
might I bring the death to life?
Mine a culpable thought crime
made in my mind
I’m undone. Damn I’m
dumb—founded. unfolded
I vow I will never tell anyone
this thought
 
At three hundred and fifty
I test to slope down
sinking him to the bed
his legs straighten
as cradleless he’s shored
in the cool sheets
I feel his unweight

There is a whimper
he stays asleep
but my arm is under his head
and my consideration is this —
that I would 
rather cut off my arm
than risk waking him.

And this goes some way
to prove to myself
I am not a sick prick.

I am treacled stealth
Holding my breath I sledge
myself from under his slumber
And wait.
I’m all caught air
and mineral still
waiting for his call

He remains asleep

Hope is protean
It is not the sweep of easy wind
nor downy flake
not slow silk snow
not drifts, not delicate like shimmer
It’s grim and limby
It’s not a parking space.
It doesn't lift us
It’s not the ‘it could be you’
blue finger.
It’s not the apathetic sceptics who give
us a sporting chance.

It’s not the slut clicked guilt petitions
not the imagery, too bitter to imagine,
of little Alan — application rejected —
his body face down on the shore
a cradleless one.
laying. Three too.
‘That is the strangest sea that
never asks a crumb of me’
looking as though he’s sleeping
Unweight, in the arms of a soldier.

So I count to five
hundred and five
watched sleep by his side