matt pond PA

May 24, 2019

Elpis Has Left the Building.

Elpis was the last one out of the box. It was so sudden that she couldn’t remember anything that preceded her fully-formed consciousness. She rose out of the Hudson River, coughing and sputtering, conceived completely from nothing.

Elpis changed her name to Hope because everyone at school called her Elpis Presley. She started with the “o” that uncontrollably fell from her mouth when she first spoke. Elpis added the “h” to signify laughter, the “p” for the real pity she felt for humanity, the “e” because Hop sounded stupid.

Through her compassion and after classes were dismissed, Hope tried to help everyone. If you were thirsty, she’d show you how to draw a picture of a soda can. If you were lost, Hope whispered to pull over and stop shouting at the steering wheel. If your heart was broken, she would hold your hand in silence until the sobs ceased. Hope never slept on Valentine’s Day. She gulped No-Doz and froze her face into a gentle smile while listening to the world continue to cast off and cast on, the shared sadnesses that somehow make us all feel alone.

Hope couldn’t give you what you wanted. But she could show you how to connect to the feeling of what you might need. A conduit, a catalyst. Hope evoked a sense so real that it made anything that was reasonable and modest a genuine possibility. In the pure form — dirty blankets in summer fields, soft snow at midnight, drunken streetlight dancing — Hope built brilliant sand castles out of emptiness.

And for a while, it was plenty. Hope unabashedly believed in all-out corniness, the uncomplicated idea that we can all be happy, that eventually we can all have enough. Hope wanted to show you the way there and then move on to the next person who was arguing with the sky.

Then More showed up. Once a single-celled organism, initially divided on a plastic bus station bench — everyone wanted More. The slicked-back hair, straddling a backwards school chair with a toothpick in his mouth, preaching that enough just wasn’t enough. More turned into the only way and the children of More pledged allegiance to the code of All-You-Can-Eat Buffets and bright yellow Lamborghinis.

Demoralized, Hope split to California and returned to her maiden name. Elpis doesn’t respond to requests for interviews. Her words get taken out of context, she’s mocked for her simple frocks. Critics call her maudlin and sneer at her unpopularity. The scarcity of her followers is the hard-nosed proof that she is meaningless to most.

If you dig a hole in the ground, bury your hand and leave it there for a half hour, you can feel Elpis’s heartbeat way up here in the Catskills. Hope will live forever. She simply doesn’t know how to respond to anyone right now.