New Hope Woman

In article <> "Janet Kegg" writes:

> A friend and her visiting cousin had a delicious dinner of Chinese food
> Friday evening (from one of our favorite restaurants that has just started
> delivering to the comfort of your home). Came time to crack the fortune
> cookie and hers read
>   "All is not yet lost"
> Ouch.

New Hope Woman takes it and laughs,
she folds it into origami.
“You have to look at it upside-down,” she says,
handing it back in the form of a crane,
“or else you are already, see, that’s hopeful
if you read it the right way round.
Virgil wrote about a group of shipwrecked guys
whose city had been burned down, sitting round a fire
and one of them says to his son, ‘hey,
one day we may look back on this and laugh.’
People have been chalking that one up as wisdom
in fortune cookies ever since.
It sounds neater in Latin and out of context,
like he’s saying things can only get worse.
I dig Virgil in the ribs about it
‘Forsan et haec’ I say, ‘olim, meminisse iuvabit, eh?’
and he moves off, piously, he can’t stand hope
unless it’s nailed to the mast.”
New Hope Woman’s laugh sounds like the thunder
of spaceships taking off for far planets,
it sounds like buffalo rumbling across the plains
and if you listen hard you can hear joyous drumming
bare feet dancing round the fossil rock,
the gurgling of streams, the bubbling of stewpots.
She takes a handful of your take-away
she eats it grinning, burning her fingers,
smearing them with red and yellow sauces.
“Look,” she says, sitting down next to you, serious,
swinging her dirty feet, running her fingers through her hair
to clean them, pushing back feathers, flowers, bones,
twigs and something that might be an aileron;
“Look up, look forward – look for wider chances.
Things change, we all rot sooner or later, things get tough
— try being me now and then in this world! —
but there’s always something, you can always
look for the next thing to do that will take you towards
where you know you want to be going.”
She takes the crane back gently, gives it a push
and together you watch it fly away
up and out over the buildings and the distance,
elegant as only a paper crane can be,
fragile and real as all not yet being lost,
towards the first stars coming out.

3rd November 1997, Swansea.