Issue > Poetry
Jeff Hardin

Jeff Hardin

Jeff Hardin is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Small Revolution and No Other Kind of World, recipient of the X.J. Kennedy Prize. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Hudson Review, Gettysburg Review, Poetry Northwest, Hotel Amerika, North American Review, The Laurel Review and elsewhere. 

Concerning Birds along a Hillside

                          to Jan LaPerle


You wouldn't believe the birds here, wild spinnings
after so many months of cold—I can scarcely think
for all the noise they make, but maybe that's
a blessing since I'm never sure what thoughts
have brought me anyway. Strange companions.
Broken things, really. I try to give a few to you
in hope our worlds might overlap or be more
clearly understood. I learned from Dickinson
that thoughts remain unfinished—from where
or why they come no one can say. Just up the hill
an ash tree leans away from where the others reach.
I've studied it a decade now. I, too, lean away
from where the day is heading. From the one,
most likely, I'll become. From every understanding
I have found and entertained. And not because
I am dissatisfied and not because the thoughts I know
are weary, small, or lacking purpose. I guess
because they feel like guesses in the end. I guess
because they're trapped by what they can't imagine,
trapped by what's in front of them, trapped by words,
the only form they take. What if we, in holding
who we think we are, completely miss the self
we might have come to be? What other questions
might have framed our joys and fears? I'm not asking
for an answer, nor am I asking to be mended by
a moment's trace of what our being here will mean.
I guess I'm asking if the noise we make will fill the sky.
Is thought the closest we can get to being other
than the self that has the thought? Is I ever you?

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