Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Barbara Kingsolver: "Hope; An Owner's Manual"

Look, you might as well know, this thing
is going to take endless repair: rubber bands,
crazy glue, tapioca, the square of the hypotenuse.
Nineteenth century novels. Heartstrings, sunrise:
all of these are useful. Also, feathers.

To keep it humming, sometimes you have to stand
on an incline, where everything looks possible;
on the line you drew yourself. Or in
the grocery line, making faces at a toddler
secretly, over his mother's shoulder.

You might have to pop the clutch and run
past all the evidence. Past everyone who is
laughing or praying for you. Definitely you don't
want to go directly to jail, but still, here you go,
passing time, passing strange. Don't pass this up.

In the worst of times, you will have to pass it off.
Park it and fly by the seat of your pants. With nothing
in the bank, you'll still want to take the express.
Tiptoe past the dogs of the apocalypse that are sleeping
in the shade of your future. Pay at the window.
Pass your hope like a bad check.
You might still have just enough time. To make a deposit.

"Hope; An Owner's Manual" by Barbara Kingsolver. Taken from "How to be Hopeful," Kingsolver's commencement address at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, May 11, 2008. Published online by Duke Today, May 11, 2008. © Barbara Kingsolver.

Image credit: "Hope," watercolor portrait by Svetlana Novikova (originally color).


  1. I saved this link a year ago and find myself clicking on it whenever clouds threaten to overtake the sun. Thanks!

  2. I'm glad the calendar brought me here again this morning. One needs to be reminded often.


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