Taking Up the Cause of Gladness
Jeff Hardin

Taking Up the Cause of Gladness

In the dark of a morning an old man pours coffee
and settles into reading Ecclesiastes. His days
are failing, “but the earth remains forever.”

Eighty or a hundred years is still not long enough
to follow the flights of geese, or to learn how to be
still, or to know what a single prayer has touched.

What is wisdom but this scattering of stones,
this ache to gather them back? From beginning
to end, the soul has always lived in a future tense.

Even so, the heart’s gladness contents itself with
how light streaming through barn slats easels
the hay, rivaling Caravaggio’s depictions of Christ.

Quiet words spoken linger between friends. We
stand already in the afterlife to come in which all
moments altogether all at once leap into reunion.

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.