A World Not Gentle

by Jeff Hardin

I never wrote the poem, though I wanted to,
where I wished to steal Stern’s phrase—
“the world at last a meadow”—for no reason
other than to speak again its genius and beauty,
its heartbreak and gentleness in a world
that is not gentle. Mine would have been
a poem of dancing, too—maybe bewilderment,
maybe derangement—I might have cradled
a lily or held my face nearer unto thee.
I might have looked ridiculous, so much so
that everybody looking on at last would
give up their composure, give up names,
faces, everyone a child or asphodel,
a wind-lifted dogwood bloom, everyone
here then here again, caught up together,
the world at last that place imagined,
happened upon, where, lying down,
we give ourselves to the grass, to the warmth,
to the hour that receives and grants us back.

JEFF HARDIN is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Small Revolution, No Other Kind of World, and A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being. His work has been honored with the Nicholas Roerich Prize, the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, and the X. J. Kennedy Prize. Recent and forthcoming poems appear in Ruminate, The Laurel Review, The Southern Review, Appalachian Heritage, Grist, The Shore, and elsewhere. He lives and teaches in TN.

Featured image: “Meadow” by Barney Moss