[Poem] Soap Rhymes with Hope, by John Eppel
Evening cestrum comes to mind: honey about to ferment,
to become mead, an intoxicating brew; bauhinia
comes to mind, synchronising its perfume with the rotation
of my bicycle wheels, on my way to teach willing children
that nothing in nature dies, that process is a conversion
of one form of energy into another, that tinder
turns to fire, thence to ashes, thence to a sweetener of soil.
Once, when I went down to Kew in late spring, the scent of lilacs
made me weep for home, for the syringa blossom that transformed
September to a drift of skirts eddying, pony tails
swishing. But winter’s best fragrance was the sage leaf buddleia
that prospered in our neighbour’s garden; and summer’s was plumeria,
its common name suggested by a famous scent invented
centuries ago by perfumer, Muzio Frangipane.
Now, the mounds of household rubbish dumped along our public ways,
on verges, in storm drains, rivers, ponds, or set alight to stink —
a toxic, nauseating horror that rises not like incense
but settles for the nostrils of the devil. Now our houses
reek of “war vets’” armpits and other effects of soaplessness:
poverty, anxiety, trepidation, even terror:
a ferment that manufactures, not bubbles, but hopelessness.
(c) John Eppel, 2008
About the author
John Eppel is an award-winning poet, novelist and short story writer. His books include the novels, D.G.G. Berry’s The Great North Road ( Carrefour-Hippogriff, 1992); Hatchings (Carrefour, 1993) and The Giraffe Man (Queillerie, 1994). His latest novel, The English Teacher (extract) is due out shortly from amaBooks.