It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.
It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
it is the motion that runs the tail of a dog,
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.
It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.
It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.
So much talk of discouragement these days as we weary of all that goes on that is difficult to endure in this beleaguered world. This is why I turn to poetry, where I can always find images of beauty, of joy, of hope, as in this poem by Lisel Mueller.
She describes the many hidden places hope may be found – dark corners, mushroom gills (I must admit I’ve never looked there), in the starry heads / of dandelions turned sages, on the green wings that sail from the tops of maples. Hope can also be found in the many-eyed potato, in earthworm segments that regenerate, in the happy wag of a dog’s tail, in the first breath of a newborn.
It is the singular gift / we cannot destroy in ourselves no matter how hopeless we may feel, how tiny the flame of hope though when it is gone, so may be life. It is the argument that refutes death, reminding us that there is more that we cannot yet know. Hope is the longing for what we desire, as essential as blood to our bodies, the serum which makes us swear / not to betray one another.
There are so many metaphors for where we can find hope, this most necessary element of life. In other words, it is in this poem, trying to speak.