Jeff Hardin

A Poem Is A Way Of Giving Up An Old Language

You’d think by now we’d know all there is 

of stillness, deer each morning coming to feed 

in the not-quite dark becoming not-yet light.


Later: a day as illegible as wren eggs disappearing followed 

by bees weighing down clover stems followed by memory 

of mayapples next to a holly tree soundless as time.


Half my life ago half my life was spent disentangling 

fishing line from failed casts along a creek. Now

I can’t seem to separate my thoughts from others’.


Yesterday my conversation with someone newly immigrated

reminded me there’s a space between—a holy ground—

where, to truly speak, each has to give up an old language.


I say things like “a leaf falling resembles a thought,” but am

willing to be nudged toward any understanding that serves 

as a balm for the horrors some souls are forced to escape.


Jeff Hardin is the author of six collections of poetry: Fall Sanctuary (Nicholas Roerich Prize); Notes for a Praise Book (Jacar Press Book Award); Restoring the Narrative (Donald Justice Prize); Small Revolution; No Other Kind of World (X. J. Kennedy Prize), and A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being. The New Republic, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, Southwest Review, North American Review, The Gettysburg Review, Poetry Northwest, Hotel Amerika, and Southern Poetry Review have published his poems. He teaches at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, TN.

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