by Ann King
When the helicopters circled endlessly,
when flames consumed police station and post office
and television news was too awful to watch,
when virus lurked outside our doors,
we huddled in our separated spaces and wondered
Where is hope?
Hope wasn’t in vaccines—then only test-tube dreams,
nor in scoffing politicians, denying the very landscape of our lives.
She didn’t travel with angry rioters as they sought to punish
someone, anyone, for their circumstances.
The smoke and smell of fire swirled around us.
We looked through the darkened windows of our shrinking lives
and thought that hope had withered and blown away
in the warm winds of the summer.
But hope peaked out at us quietly
in the wise and compassionate words of the daily health report.
She was in songs that neighbors sang from their balconies,
in cookies delivered to first responders,
in learning to meet and laugh in digital ways.
Hope first tiptoed into our lives,
and we breathed a little easier.
Then she skipped and invited us to sing with her,
and when she danced, we joined her in a new future.
This is how hope is, how she always is.
Like weeds growing in cracks in the sidewalk,
like vines creeping out of crevices in the cliff,
hope is strong and stubborn.
When we think she’s gone, she is only waiting,
waiting for us to turn from the dark window,
take a deep breath,
open the door a crack,
and let her in.
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