Hope

by Kevin Sweeney

At first we thought it was the Hope who lived on Broadway,
my niece’s high school friend

but this Hope was from Ferry Village, an apt. house
where she wasn’t the owner, just a single
mother of 3 kids

she’d packed into the van with her two friends
to fly up 95 to Van Buren maybe
Fort Kent, the impossible North

where she’d met some internet guy,
decided with her friends humming love songs
it’s gotta be you, wonderful you

there couldn’t still be snow in Aroostook County
where a smile can seem utterly frivolous.

She drove too fast and crashed into trees
in the median 10 miles south of Bangor.
Everyone died.

There were flower shrines, sheared trees,
the space cleaned by road crews.

She never had a chance to be
disappointed by the guy in Van Buren or Fort Kent
(maybe it was Madawaska)
The paper said nothing about her kids’ father(s).

Sonny, my union brother, lives up there in Fort Fairfield.
He once killed his friend’s Doberman
who’d bitten a couple of girls.

When Sonny arrived on the property
the dog was unleashed and came at him.
Sonny reached inside his black Olds for the pistol.

His neighbor wasn’t happy, but Sonny explained
“If I’d just dropped by, I wouldn’t have shot him,
but you invited me . . . ”

Things were barely green again
where Hope went off the road.
But I’ve been further north;
even in May, had she made it
the earth could still be frozen,

ice barely receding from the edges of the lake.