A Belief

Anne Stevenson

              He was an economist
              so he believed in growth.
‘You can’t have economics without growth.’
              The word ‘development’
              frequently filled his mouth.

              It made a nasal sound,
              the way he said
‘infinitely expandable finality of wealth.
              Gentlemen, nothing is
              impossible on this earth.’

              Positive emphasis brought his
              angina some relief.
The dizzy glass air of his office
              inspired analogy:
              ‘Fiscality, in brief,

              is like breath
              to the body politic.’
After the conference dinner, sitting with his wife,
              watching the traffic
              bend through his balloon glass,

              he formulated a playful
              back-up philosophy.
‘Consider your body, or even mine, Edith.
              We grow until we
              stop growing, don’t we?

              Take an animal,
              take any plant or tree:
growth gets it to a point where death
              sets in negatively,
              so to speak. Frankly,

              natural models won’t do
              for the economy.’
He stopped to contemplate the abstract of his faith,
              the exponential increase
              filling in, overcoming

              now this, now that waste
              space on the world graph.
Competing lights in his brandy made him laugh.
              Though his arm ached painfully,
              he was proud of himself.