Not Reaching to Hold Anything by Jeff Hardin

             willow at the field edge—
                                    after weeks away

                          I want to wander toward the shape
                                    of its meandering
                                               pantomime against the sky,

             slow in my own motions, as though

             the ruminative feel of it—
                                    could be experienced bodily,

                          felt in the soles of my feet,
                                    clutched in the back of my legs,
                                               in the tightening tendons,

             the sway of my arms not reaching to hold anything.

             or without
                                    days or years to come,

                          I’ve set my steps toward
                                    a grammar, too,
                                               I cannot hear or speak,

             wind-whipped and flung about and shadowing along the ground.

             of the selves I am
                                    or think to be

                          adds what he can: a word, a prayer,
                                    a question whose asking
                                               is the falling sound of leaves,

             the gape of the hollow, the wing strokes of owls.

             times I only listen
                                    to the unlikeliness

                          of anything or anyone having been,
                                    their being
                                               sudden and haunting,

             fluent and silent, like willow limbs shivered to vanishing.
Jeff Hardin is the author of Fall Sanctuary, recipient of the Nicholas Roerich Prize from Story Line Press, and Notes for a Praise Book, selected by Toi Derricotte for the Jacar Press Book Award. His third collection, Restoring the Narrative, received the Donald Justice Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in 2015. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, Southwest Review, The Gettysburg Review, Poetry Northwest, Hotel Amerika, Southern Poetry Review, Meridian, and elsewhere. He teaches at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, TN. His website is