after Ed Wilkinson
1. My grandmother told me that aliens were going to come and save us;
from what was never terribly specific.
Some impending cataclysm, maybe.
A bad night’s sleep. Nightmares.
Some wandering hand, holding
a palmful of fear and sand and doubt.
After she died, we discovered
she had maxed out all of her credit cards
on magnetic bracelets. Homeopathic remedies.
Silver nitrate. Conspiracy theories. Hope.
She wasn’t buying anything less than hope.
2. Here is how to prepare yourself to steal something:
Cut off your hands. You are merely going to the store,
walking down the street, looking straight ahead
and you have no hands
so you cannot be blamed for what they do.
I have stolen so much from so many—
I have stolen hours from my various employers,
I have stolen my face from both of my loving parents,
I once stole an entire city from a man who thought he owned it
with just my purse and a sense of purpose.
I am an expert. A secret hidden in plain sight.
A broad daylight burglary.
I am here to confess that I am a thief
with hungry strangers for hands.
3. My grandmother’s actions didn’t make sense
until the next time I stole something, and I looked at
what my greedy hands presented to me when I got home.
What is hope to the thief?
Will it still work if I do not come by it honestly?
What does hope mean if I steal it whenever my hands
wander away in the night, let them bring it back to me,
put it in my mouth in the dark, in my bed, like a secret,
like it’s the hope I’m afraid of,
and not what my hands are capable of?