A Penny for Hope
Art by Kim Salac
Does anyone else get how absurd it is?
To hope, you have no choice but to do so wholeheartedly; it is faith and grace and courage, the heaviest and hardest, yet packaged as airy and leavened; it’s “the thing with feathers”, of course.
Even just saying the word, it’s impossible not to open up your mouth and chest, letting out an exhale after.
Hope has the best branding of all words; endemic to its definition, too, is that it’s non-refundable*. You can’t step into hope and decide you don’t want it anymore. You have to commit to it because you’re already airborne or in the belly of a fire, and there’s really no time, if you’re falling or burning, to be bargaining with something as unhinged as hope. Mmmm, no thanks, I thought I wanted to hope but nah, nope. Not working for me today. I’m just gonna pause the pain I’m in and maybe take this up again tomorrow. I have some time between classes, maybe I’ll schedule some time to hope, you know? Maybe on my walk, but only if it doesn’t rain. There’s no room to be meticulous and precious about it.
You have to commit to it because you’re already airborne or in the belly of a fire, and there’s really no time, if you’re falling or burning, to be bargaining with something as unhinged as hope.
If you’re considering Trying Hope, you are likely reeling from something--perhaps you are in quarantine-- having to, every moment, say goodbye to your life as you once knew it. Or maybe driving through heavy rain and tears, moving to a new city, saying goodbye. You likely have no awareness of where the walls are anymore. There is no other marketplace for something so radical. Who would want to bargain with that? A thing as untethered as hope. I wouldn’t want to go toe-to-toe with that crazy mother-lover. Something tells me it might win.
There is no other marketplace for something so radical. Who would want to bargain with that? A thing as untethered as hope.
And it does. Every time. Lawlessly and nonsensically—hope takes the place of joy, hope renewed replaces hope expired. This has been my experience over the past year; every time I think I’ve maxed out on hope, I find a penny in my pocket. My roommate makes me laugh. My mother listens to me talk about my internship. My brother shaves his head. Now how absurd is that? As it turns out, not at all, really. It’s the penny moments we’re made up of—and hope seems to have a way of knowing where all the money is.
Hope was born—March
2021. A year after Joy
collapsed. Joy folded
gently upon itself,
its last thoughts scrawled
and spilled and
smudged then pressed
into a beating, warm
chest not far off, lain on
the counter, nestled
under a pillow,
forgotten at home. Joy
creased and pleated.
Hope took its
*hope and fear not sold separately