A Few Words Left Behind


I’ve no desire to use a different voice with you
than with a white oak sapling, moss I walk upon,
or creek stones.  Even a falling leaf describes a prayer.

When bewilderment descends, I give up searching for
my hidden name, the one the willow snaps along its lengths.
I turn back toward the fencerow, its six or seven posts.

Imagine a language pieced together from archaic words
we thought we left behind.  I could spend all evening
staring at two trees at the far end of this snow-soaked field.

Our people years ago would plant an apple tree
some distance from the house to draw the bugs away.
A lesson’s there for those who keep life’s sweetness near.

The cold’s moved in to cancel what we’ve stored away.
Will we make the spring?  It’s envy I have—but also
love—for how the grasshopper gets to fling itself away.

Jeff Hardin Bracken.JPG

Jeff Hardin is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Restoring the NarrativeSmall Revolution, and No Other Kind of World.  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 The Hudson Review, The Southern ReviewGettysburg ReviewHotel AmerikaNorth American ReviewPoetry NorthwestNew Madrid, and elsewhere.  He lives and teaches in Tennessee.