Twice a week I set up my stall and sell hope. 

Peddlar woman that I am,

I offer up my basket of delights

And allow passers by to choose what sort they want. 

People wait for hours,

Queue outside the building,

In the hope

Of seeing one of us peddlars,

That there will still be some hope left

When all hope has gone. 

My hope is free,

Though – in fairness – there is a cost to me. 

You see, my hope is not endless

And I am not sure where I will get more from

When my hope has gone. 

The bargain is that you give me your emotion

So it becomes my emotion

And I give you my hope in exchange. 

Then I have my emotions and your emotions

And less hope

And you are lighter when you leave,

Carrying a helium balloon of hope to lift you off the ground. 

.

You, you beautiful girl with golden hoops in your ears,

What is it that you want? 

Is it your mother with you, with hoops in her ears,

Your beautiful baby boy tucked up in his pushchair,

His cheeks flooded with warmth? 

You want somebody to lock up

The father of your child again

So that he cannot hurt you,

So that he cannot smash up any more cars,

So that your child is your child,

Not his child and your child. 

And you want your son to have your name

Not his name

And you have moved on,

And he has just left prison

And you want him back there,

And I know somebody who can help you

But let me tell you what you can

And cannot do first of all

And how your child will always be

Your child and his child

Unless a judge says otherwise

Which he probably will never do. 

.   

And You, now, what do You want? 

Your son is unruly and climbs

On the chairs and smiles

At me and tears at the walls 

And points out the scribble

Left by an earlier child,

And you tell me how sad you were

When your first child was born

And how you hurt her

And how they took her away

And gave her away to somebody else

Forever

And how you are better now

And doing well and you and your husband

Still have photographs of your daughter,

Your first child,

And that you ache to hear news of her,

Though you know you hurt her,

And you want some hope badly

To put on your guilt and

To wash away your sadness. 

I can only give you a tiny amount

Because you know there is not much to give you,

And I help you to write a letter

To those who gave her away asking

If they can ask that those who have her now

Will tell you she is fine. 

And you hope that your letters

Did not go astray.

And your emotion becomes my emotion

And your daughter is my daughter

And my hope is your hope

And then you are gone.   

.

But wait, another needs hope and I have a little left. 

A mother whose son died for his country,

Killed by his country’s friends,

And they think money will help

But she has never had any money and

She does not know what to do with it. 

Will others take away her money,

Will they know what to do with it for themselves

And forget to use it to help her?

Where will she get help that helps her? 

I point her in the right direction,

Leave messages for my friend

Who will be her financial friend

And look after her.   

And I am drained and my basket it almost empty

And there is only the lonely man

Who has no work to dignify his soul

And whose mother has squirreled away money

To pay for her funeral

When she is gone

Which she has made his money

Even though it is still her money

And so he has no money

And is entitled to no money.

I give him some hope,

That we will be able to help him

Show them that it is her money

Not his money and then he, too, is

Gone. 

And my hope is smaller

And my pain is bigger

And somewhere between

Now and the next time

I have to find more hope,

And get rid of  their emotions

Which have become my emotions.

Advertisements