Don’t Take All These Lonely Poems Too Seriously

Amanda Hope
| poetry


I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been granted my share
of closeness—an unexpected hug from the girl

I’ve been pining over, or the sort of friend who figures out
how to get through to me when I’ve curled up

like an aggravated hedgehog, and once, the kind of love
that felt like it was big enough to hold me and all my flaws,

even though it only worked as long as I sat on them
and shoved them down enough that I could zip shut

my slender perfectionist suitcase. But never mind that.
It’s the feeling that counts, right?

I’ve even known the kind of love that my cat still
shows me after I’ve wrapped him in one arm

while shoving a pill down his throat, quickly
so he doesn’t gag too much. There’s no way to tell him

it’ll make him feel better, no way to tell him I’ll be back
when he stares as I roll my luggage out the door.

And yet he purrs when I come near. And yet he falls asleep
in my arms each night, nuzzles me awake in the morning.

Is this that thing called grace, which I’ve always been too dense
to understand? Or else it’s the kind of Stockholm syndrome

that anyone might develop, sitting inside a church
convincing themselves that what hurts and controls them

loves them too. I can’t stand not knowing which.
And if God is out there fretting that our devotion

isn’t really love, I guess that’s another kind of closeness:
this unexpected sympathy for that old son of a bitch.

Amanda Hope lives in eastern Massachusetts with her partner and cats. A graduate of Colgate University and Simmons College, she works as a librarian. Her chapbook, The Museum of Resentments, was published by Paper Nautilus in 2020.

Every Day a Ghost Town Loses a Map
Modern Loneliness