I think on a man who thinks little
of what anyone thinks of him.
He goes about his morning because
it is the only one that has been given
and any other is not promised.
That’s how he’d say it—given—
and offer nothing more since,
to his mind, God upholds the world,
and whether anyone agrees with him
is not an argument he entertains.
Some days he walks along a ridge
to listen to the new growth on the oaks
and be alone with hymns he knows.
Sometimes a word or phrase slips out,
but mostly he is silent, seeing sky
and limbs through what he hears inside
—“live in the sunshine” or “naught be
all else to me, save that thou art.”
The contentment of his steps regards
the hours in their amplitude
and the fact of his existence
as an astonishment beyond the mind.
If pressed, he might admit
a hawk feather offers testimony
as do sulphur wells and muscadines.
He’d smile to think of placing twigs
and hulls along a spring-fed stream.
And passing through a pasture gate,
he’d leave it open, expecting, if you’re
coming, you’ll close and latch it
and get to being busy doing
whatever nearest thing needs done.
Jeff Hardin is the author of four collections: Fall Sanctuary, Notes for a Praise Book, Restoring the Narrative, and Small Revolution. He has received the Nicholas Roerich Prize, the Jacar Press Book Award, and the Donald Justice Poetry Prize from West Chester University's Poetry Center. His fifth collection, No Other Kind of World, recently received the X. J. Kennedy Prize and will be published in 2017. The New Republic, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, and others have published his poems. He teaches at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tennessee.