The Green Wings of Hope
Esperança does not live in hope, though her eyes are the same opaque green as the small winged beetle that is her namesake. Hope involves looking forward, beyond the moment, into the future and Esperança no longer looks into the future.
Nor does she look to the past. When she first came here, to the great city, with the great Christ on top of the mountain raising his great arms to the sky, she was forever looking over her shoulder, casting quick green glances behind her, the way she had done as a child, trying to catch her shadow on the hop, skittering on dirt roads or ballooning against adobe walls, up to mischief.
Here no shadow sticks to the non-slip soles of her ugly practical shoes. Esperança lives in a place lit 24/7, where the light casts no shadows. She lives in a place that never sleeps and wall clocks tell the time across the globe. Knowing the time in Tokyo or London makes her feel calm, connected. At the end of her shift, someone thousands of miles west, just like her, is starting her shift and someone else thousands of miles east is, if she’s lucky, already deep in sleep.
In her green nylon overall, Esperança trundles a cart stacked with toilet rolls and soap dispenser refills, with bleach and disinfectant, rags and scrubbing brushes, rubber gloves. She is invisible to those she services: travellers with holdalls and backpacks, suitcases and handbags who just can’t wait to use the facilities to attend the calls of nature and freshen up, to apply their duty free lipstick and scoosh on some perfume from a glass bottle in the shape of a flower, a beautiful woman.
Esperança lives indoors, in a temperature-controlled environment, in perpetual artificial light. Oh, there are a few dark corners, broom cupboards, store rooms where she might take a catnap. When she’s brazen, she sleeps on the concourse, on the metal benches, alongside young travellers, on their way to discover the world or on their way home to sleep in a soft bed after having seen how others live.
Esperança might be brazen but she is not foolhardy. In a toilet cubicle, she’ll strip off her uniform, rinse it in the hand basin, blow it dry under a roaring Dyson Air Blade which sounds like an emergency but does the job, then stow it in her bag. In the morning, before the sun comes up, she might take advantage of the public showers to attend to other laundry and matters of personal hygiene. Sometime Esperança feels anxious. Sleeping on the premises is against the rules for staff but when she’s out of uniform her boss doesn’t recognise her, the rest of the cleaning squad have learned to leave her be and travellers don’t care what rules she is breaking as long as she’s quiet, as long as she doesn’t scream out and slash the air in her sleep, as long as the green wings of hope remain tucked away and she is content to remain in the perpetual moment.
About Dilys Rose:
Dilys Rose was born and brought up in Glasgow but has lived in Edinburgh for many years. She has published ten books of poetry and fiction, for which she has received various awards. Her most recent collaboration was as librettist for a new opera, Kaspar Hauser, Child of Europe (composer Rory Boyle, premier March 2010 (Glasgow). She is currently writing a novel about blasphemy and betrayal in a period of moral panic. She has contributed to Issue 2 of Interlitq and Issue 10 of Interlitq.