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About the Author

Philip D. Hughes-Luing
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Author Info

Hope Grows Heavy

As you remember your first passionate commitment
to spend the rest of your life with someone you love
attend college together, neither of you knowing
what college might be like, yet whatever it was
you’d be rooming together, then law school together
then open a law firm together, be living, working
together for as far on forward as your youth could see

Then, five days later, on your seventeenth birthday
you were a pall bearer at the post-collision funeral
at which the law firm was dissolved, along with your plans
for your two lives living a life together, at the funeral
at which you first felt a real loss of hope for an entire lifetime

Then comes the one with whom you lived for two years
and looked after for ten more, for whom you were life coach
caretaker and executor, for whom you spoke the eulogy

Next comes the third one, after twelve years anticipating
how you’d grow old together, who graciously offered a room
in your home for the recuperation of the one for whom
you were life coach and caretaker, honoring your past love
cementing in heart and mind your commitment now
to your third love, whose mental faculties, two years later

began gradually to decline, gently and sweetly sliding down
a two-year slope, eventually not recognizing you, yet still able
to name you, threatening to report you to your named self
if you annoyed by pressing too strenuously while giving a bath

After whose death it took four years to regain hope
to realize hope becomes more complex, tastes bittersweet
tinged with double-edged memories after each loss, that it ages
changes, never again feels how it had before, that hope
becomes heavier to carry -- yes, always there, available for you
provided you are willing to look for it, and able to lift it

Now comes the time, unrelenting, to bury the fourth, who died
the day after your fifteenth anniversary, to whom you’d proposed
with a book of your writings entitled “Bliss”

And, for five years now, you’re again searching for hope
can’t imagine what it could look or feel like, and all you have
to go on, if you go on because it’s always been said that you must
go on, are professional assurances it will re-emerge in time.

You can’t help but wonder, “Before I submerge in the soil
of our cemetery plot, its headstone honoring all four lives
to whom I’d committed my life?”

Then finally, upon bad professional advice, with little warning
you lose everything, all artifacts from your life prior, your art
your home, your everything except for what you can carry
with you in two bags and in your brain as you board a bus
to travel away from disaster, heading toward a beach awash
with memories, where twenty years prior you scattered ashes

But the bus drive ends early with a cup of coffee and a glimpse
of something like hope in a place that feels, like the coffee
at least for the duration of sipping its rejuvenating, bitter black heat
like it might be somewhere you could live, like where you can imagine
when leaving behind after the last funeral, if you had gone to instead

You are wondering, asking yourself, trying not to ask yourself
are still seeing an occasional flash of that first, caffeinated glimpse
amid a torrent of enticing justifications, all tugging to pull you under
to relieve you of wondering, “Should I resist? Is anything here real
enough to live for? Did I imagine it? Is this what hope looks like now?”

copyright 2018, Philip Hughes-Luing

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