hope’s effort

Chronic and invisible illness has become a daily struggle rather than an intermittent one. It is exhausting, often defeating, and always frustrating. But when I am able to channel it into writing, somehow that tension and discomfort is eased. I always share the poetry of others her but rarely my own. Today that is different which brings another kind of unease. But nonetheless…it is written (and unedited), so here it is, as it came to mind and then to the page.

hope’s effort

I hadn’t imagined this particular evolution

of days. This—

well, it wasn’t foreseeable

(a game Life plays, with a smirk, knowing

its caprice will always confound human ego).

Exhaustion permeates and saturates the hours,

restricting the freedoms and felicity Joy once knew

but took for granted in her attempt to live

without bounds.

And yet…

A thread of hope rises each day—

a mirage that cleverly deceives the mind

into believing today will be different—

better. It’s what I hold to with a fervor so

vibrant that it seems to be Joy (regained) or even

Wellness (restored)—

(Is it a smile she’s wearing, they wonder, or just

gritting teeth clenched tight

in fear of revealing ___________?)

But, instead it’s just my soul—

hoodwinked, and the believing,

well, it’s kind of tiring.

Hope, these days, engenders new depths of fatigue

because the thread is too thin and elusive,

impossible to grasp

each and every, and some days,

well, I miss it completely. It floats

away—shimmering aloft, visible but…just…

out of reach…

And yet…

I always wake in search of it,

again, because without it,

I’d be laid flat in the blindness

of the not-knowing haze—of the fog

that necessitates a beacon to avoid

getting lost, or worse, giving up entirely—

which is always an easier reach—a falsely 

tangible promise of ease, an empty promise, that,

well, evaporates the moment acquiescence is 

accepted by the mind, the body in need of something, 

anything simpler than the work required in facing, 

in maneuvering the obstacles which can’t be overcome

in a single day…the work required to 

persevere through darkening shades of complexity.

And so….

When the thread of hope rises

each day, each day I will reach

for it, I will cling to it,

until its promise is fulfilled…because

the alternative, well, that’s not living, that’s 

a shadow life…a shadow of life…

that’s existence…wasted,

a promise left waiting—

–unfulfilled in my impatience for something 

immediately better, 

which, well, blinds the eye to all that is still present,

to the thread of hope rising and waiting for the reach,

each day.

And so…

I grab hold…again…and again because despite 

my body’s fatigue, my brain knows this truth—

I am not helpless, hopeless in the face of ______.

Life will change, circumstances will alter,

that does not mean they are worse—

only alive.

And that challenge, of being alive, is always worthy of 

Hope’s effort.

(all gratitude to Anthony Doerr and his novel Cloud Cuckoo Land as the line “A thread of hope rises,” which appears on p. 144 of the novel, was the inspiration for this piece)

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