How the Day Gets Away
Now that his mornings seem emptier, less earnest
in what they might envision or accomplish,
he sits in the sunroom, staring at the wall.
As far as events in the history of the world,
this one is quite minor, of no real consequence,
which is not to say there won’t be ramifications
for his conception of himself, a man now
dealing with the distance widening between
who he is and who he thought he might become.
If the truth must be known, he no longer
lets his eye, as he once did, sketch each
length and twist, each branching to branch-
again oak limb, as a way to stay focused
on how the least thing said moves farther
and farther from what was first intended.
How easily a discussion of something literal
could turn figurative and vice-versa,
could move from the innocuous to the threatening,
from eternal life to damnation, from what
a moment apparently is to what, inevitably,
upon further inspection, it must be lacking.
In this way the day gets away from him, as usual—
and he minds, of course, for who wouldn’t,
yet after these many years of nothing much
happening he admires, perhaps the task has
become simply to wait on another day’s arrival,
one with more or less of what it already contains.
Sometimes he opens a book to a random page,
if only for the frisson of noticing how one word
—conclusion, for instance—lies near another one,
airborne or skeptical or irrelevant, pleased
by how the mind seeks out narratives
it can’t summon or produce, only discover.
Even these, though, eventually come to mean
something else entirely, proving a premise
unforeseen, or beside the point, or petty at best,
the kind that would have come into existence
had no action been taken at all, the kind that,
once it arrives, seems the only possible outcome,
if not the only one the heart and mind can bear.
About the Author: Jeff Hardin is the author of six collections of poetry: Fall Sanctuary (Nicholas Roerich Prize); Notes for a Praise Book (Jacar Press Book Award); Restoring the Narrative (Donald Justice Prize); Small Revolution; No Other Kind of World (X. J. Kennedy Prize), and A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being. The New Republic, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, Southwest Review, North American Review, The Gettysburg Review, Poetry Northwest, Hotel Amerika, and Southern Poetry Review have published his poems. He teaches at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, TN.
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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Peacock at Dusk” (2021)