Richmond Side Porch in the Shade of Tennessee
Jeff Hardin

Richmond Side Porch in the Shade of Tennessee

          for Karl and Jane Bren

Side porch, mid-fifties, the neighborhood walkers
following the dips and rises,
                                           carrying a heavy load,
as we all are,
carrying the weight of the long, weary years.

Saturday edition at the end of the drive.
Any news that’ll stay news
                                         or last till the evening
won’t sound quite as soothing as the stream past the cane.

Today it’s enough just to name what one sees:
redbud and holly,
                           crepe myrtle trimmed back,
ivy up the tallest pine, a dove near the highest limb.

A cardinal banks hard right and dips out of view.
The privet hedge quakes;
                                       squirrels tightrope the powerlines.

More and more the moments seem posthumous,
looked back upon, lingered over,
                                                  wondered about, considered.
Everything that happens
                                     happens to keep happening, eternally here.

What heavy load, then, what weary years?
A wren rides the privet’s new growth,
                                                         a flutter of wingbeats—

each, if slowed down,
a wholly new tense in the history of time.

Jeff Hardin

is the author of four books: Fall Sanctuary, Notes for a Praise Book, Restoring the Narrative, and Small Revolution. His work has received the Nicholas Roerich Prize, the Jacar Press Book Award, and the Donald Justice Poetry Prize. His fifth collection, No Other Kind of World, recently received the X. J. Kennedy Prize and will be published in 2017.