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 seven collections of poetry, most recently Watermark, A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being, No Other Kind of World, and Small Revolution. His work has been honored with the Nicholas Roerich Prize, the Donald Justice Prize, and the X.J. Kennedy Prize from Texas Review Press. Recent and forthcoming poems appear in Appalachian Review, Literary Matters, Southern Poetry Review, Laurel Review, Braided Way, and many other journals. He lives and teaches in Tennessee.