'The best we can hope for the future is love' by Esther Koch

This article was first published in January 2020.

Meet 'The Future'

The Future is a series of short spoken-word films featuring inspirational poetry and performances from six up-and-coming young artists.

Each film presents a unique perspective on the future and confronts issues that really matter – from climate change to family ties, trusting in fate to the power of love. And they look pretty amazing too!

You can check out the whole series here.

Watch 'The best we can hope for the future is love' by Esther Koch

Meet Esther

Esther Koch describes her poetry as honest, earnest, emotional and ironic. She doesn't play a character on stage, she says; she's authentic and true to herself.

Esther found poetry at a time in her life when she felt lost. She says that she “needed an outlet for the nonsense” in her head and wanted people to see who she really was.

Poetry also taught Esther about acceptance and self-love: if you’re true to yourself when you write and perform, then “your audience will find you,” she says.

You will be loved for being yourself and eventually maybe you’ll love yourself a little more.

About 'The best we can hope for the future is love'

Esther’s poem 'The best we can hope for the future is love' is a reflection on the past as well as the future. The past is really important, she says, because it teaches us valuable things:

Ancient things, like how to look after ourselves

But she’s clear that the past doesn’t seal our fate: the future can’t be predicted.

Esther’s poem also draws attention to and celebrates the untapped potential in everyone. She reminds us that we are all precious – a “finite resource” – and that the future is always an unwritten book.

'The best we can hope for the future is love' by Esther Koch

Your mouth is a shrine
and your words mosaic the wall of your cheeks,
the future road is paved in paper,
toes in memory foam-flags sink,
the sky is left blank for you to jot love notes
in invisible ink.
How sacred you are.

The best we can hope for the future is love.
And that’s a good default, don’t you think? Redeploy
your expectations here.
Fall back but fall back on a double bed of magpie down –
(two is for joy!)
The future is inconcrete and indistinct.
The present is just a visualiser
but we can guess the lyrics;
a YouTube video can redefine a girl in just 10 minutes.
There’s always more than just first impressions.

You are the finite resource we need to protect.
Your ambition, hindered, should be our only regret.
If oil is black gold
then Love is surely red gold,
brush Love on your cheeks like pressed powder,
Love is pH balancing,

Love is blood; we often focus on how it makes us different.
Is yours thin like spring dew or thick like minestrone soup?
Red cells, white cells, smart cells (so bougie!), flip cells (vintage!).
Terrorist cells. Let’s call them ‘Plasma cliques’
Are you O-Neg or AB-plus?
(The Crips or The Bloods?)
Why do we make these minuscule differences so part of us?
Wealth, class, ideology.
Our grandparents lived for us to be who we are
but not so as we become unfree.

Look at blood under a microscope.
A billion helter-skelter particles in an ancestral rope.
We leave crumbs of ourselves in our tail wind
and somebody else just breathes them in,
all blood is claret when it pearls on our skin,
thumb it away, dab it from the corner of lips,
cover it up with dinosaur embellished strips because
a strong character will recover what suffering rips
from your journey to find Love,

throw chromosomes to the sky like jumping jacks
and watch them bounce a constellation called Past.
Behold a dot to dot of your future.

And when you get home,
locate that bit of dad’s head that’s bald.
Buff it up like a crystal ball.
Catch a glimpse of secrets in all its smooth, soothsaying-glory.
Huff on the glass of your bathroom mirror each morning
And watch to see what the condensation might confide,

The future is in your teacher, not the curriculum.
In rounds, not perpendiculam.
Your mind is a camera
gifted to you on day 1,
the images you capture,
that with a blink are captioned,
will guide you until the film is all gone.

And if you’re anything like I am,
with a mind like a dustpan,
it just keeps collecting nonsense whenever it can
and then (devious!)
it tips it all back into my hands
when its most inconvenient;

And when I start to have feelings
I spend them all in town. But new trainers won’t
carry me away from myself,
I willed my heart through my shoulder
and soldered it to my sleeve,
it takes a lot of courage to listen to yourself;

so when it all gets too much,
you don’t have to be religious to turn this space
into a prayer room; quiet, regular.
The answers will come soon,
there’s a scroll yet to unfurl in you.
You are an inkwell of absorbed ambition
from those missions in biro, scrawled on your palm in high school.

And there are parts of you
that you won’t need.
Your tailbone and your spleen.
But we aren’t taught numeracy to engage
in the addition and subtraction of our own bodies,
as if we were imperfect numbers to be tinkered with in a test.

There isn’t a formula for fulfilment.
We could try and use amulets
to ward off ailments;
Rabbit-feat around the rear-view mirror, moon-gazing hairs and
paper fortune-tellers.
They aren’t necessary.

As we age, we don’t learn new things,
we learn really old things, like what camp coffee is
and how to floss (our teeth).
Ancient things, like how to look after ourselves.
Do lovely things, hook gold through your lobes.
You are hieroglyphic, an arcane code
to the past, a gilded-gallery hatch.
You are a priceless dispatch
into the future.

Meet the poets

Our six poets were finalists in the Words First talent development scheme, which saw BBC 1Xtra, BBC Asian Network and BBC Contains Strong Language come together to discover the best spoken word artists in the UK.

We asked the poets to write an exclusive poem for The Future and worked closely with them to develop the creative approach to the films.

To explore The Future, go to Bitesize Support or follow the links below.

I used to date the future
which was
a lot
to be honest

Boiling a frog by Tom Denbigh

Warnings, omens
to say what lies ahead may unpick your smugness
shake down the walls

Stick around by Birdspeed

Yesterday was tomorrow then today
Today was tomorrow
And tomorrow’s never promised

Expect the unexpected by SAF-S2E

You don't get to deal me my future

Card tricks by Christy Ku

There is a letter buried under my pillow waiting to be written

A letter to my mother by Amina Atiq

If you need support

You should always tell someone about the things you’re worried about. You can tell a friend, parent, guardian, teacher, or another trusted adult. If you're struggling with your mental health, going to your GP can be a good place to start to find help. Your GP can let you know what support is available to you, suggest different types of treatment and offer regular check-ups to see how you’re doing.

If you’re in need of in-the-moment support you can contact Childline, where you can speak to a counsellor. Their lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There are more links to helpful organisations on BBC Action Line.

'Expect the unexpected' by SAF-S2E
'Boiling a frog' by Tom Denbigh
This is me by Harnaam Kaur