PHILIP RICE

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Holding Out Hope

Men and women abide the slanted streets,
this light on, another off, I am not even sure
if there is someone upstairs (I hear
the stairway creaking, and yet I wonder)
I am thinking about things that flicker,
and yes, I will continue to wonder
for my own poor soul, its kindling

ember-brightness, fragile brittle wood aflame—
I said I will marry the morning, and I will—
full of braided winter light—wander down
the slopes of hidden faces
(my darling, even if you nor I know)
And faithfully I will tell you (even if you

nor I believe) about heaven,
or the universe, or of the Lord,
or trees, or dreams, or whatever
hides behind the curtain of dreams,
whoever or whatever it really is, I choose

to believe today
that it is a hand
holding out hope
holding it out for us to grasp, fitfully,

desperately, darkly, even doubtfully,
And I will also hold it out to you,
when it is not abundant, and even we are forlorn,

even when again and again and again you turn away
and close tightly

your yes eyes