Sleepy Town

Our town might not interest your rebellious side,
might not offer a tour de force of frescoes
or tramcars whipping past to give that feeling
of being somewhere happening, but ours
is a place where lesser thrills seem elevated
and few need further convincing of what
they’ve always known: essentially the self
is satisfied, will sit out back receptively
with nothing more than birds, trees, wind.
In another age, this kind of life might have
been described as leisurely, attentive, not
dull or backward as some are now suggesting.
While tweets and status updates seem the rage,
the truer update, you’ll agree, is when
you find yourself observing what occurs
just feet away in any direction, time’s slow
revealing of itself, still somehow unaccounted
for. How you came to be here, though, is
just as much a mystery as why you might
have settled somewhere else but didn’t;
and had you, I doubt the explanation why
could be as clearly drawn out as the shadow
of a barn that stretches all it knows across
a field. No one’s saying this is Eden;
no one’s claiming we’re the Shangri la
of how it ought to be; but since you’re here,
you might as well decide to settle in
and sample what our lack of bistro chairs
and trinket shops has added to the wealth
of our economy. The question of what you
were born for, though not easily answered,
is welcome here; to varying degrees you’ll
be among a sympathetic crowd believing
bouts of solitude are healthy and not a sign
of anti-social tendencies or ill toward others.
We’re fine with letting progress move
along toward somewhere else as long as
after supper we’re allowed to wander out
and gather in the silence of the stars.
Not exactly what the crowds compete
to see, we understand, but no one here’s
apologizing or asking for a camera crew
to document the quiet we’ve grown fond
of keeping to ourselves. In fact, the fewer
who find us the better. But you’re welcome
to stay. We hope you will. Our town could
use another kindred soul, stopped in from
the cold, someone awake to what it’s all about,
the less that makes much of the little we are.

Jeff Hardin

Jeff Hardin

Jeff Hardin is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being, No Other Kind of World, Small Revolution, and Restoring the Narrative. His work has been honored with the Nicholas Roerich Prize, the Donald Justice Prize, and the X. J. Kennedy Prize. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Hudson Review, The Laurel Review, Hopkins Review, Copper Nickel, and many others. His seventh collection, Watermark, is forthcoming in early 2022. He lives and teaches in Tennessee.
Jeff Hardin

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Author: Jeff Hardin

Jeff Hardin is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being, No Other Kind of World, Small Revolution, and Restoring the Narrative. His work has been honored with the Nicholas Roerich Prize, the Donald Justice Prize, and the X. J. Kennedy Prize. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Hudson Review, The Laurel Review, Hopkins Review, Copper Nickel, and many others. His seventh collection, Watermark, is forthcoming in early 2022. He lives and teaches in Tennessee.