Against Pessimism

Vona Groarke

I remember there was a big bridge
with a toll, and for once I had change.
The river was a shadow of itself below
and a thin white cloud kept time with us
to the other side.

I fell asleep. Later someone, probably Sophie,
said, ‘she fell asleep,’
and that’s as much as it amounts to
when you think about it.

Sophie took me to a fortune teller
who said my grandma would die in a fire
and would leave me everything.

Both my grandmas had already died
their bone-cold deaths, long before.
So much for fortunes. So much for fire.
I don’t know where Sophie is now.

Back then, the future was the bridge
but somewhere, it changed to the toll.
You hand over coins, he hands back smaller coins.
He doesn’t speak so you don’t either
just look ahead, release the brake,
get under way.

Vona Groarke is author of seven collections of poetry, most recently X and Selected Poems, awarded the Pigott Prize for the best Irish book of poetry in 2016. Her book-length essay Four Sides Full was also published that year. She is a senior lecturer in poetry at the University of Manchester and one oft he 2018-2019 Fellows at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.
Originally published:
October 1, 2018

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