Being In Your Own Mind

When you’re with, say, your own kind,
those toward whom you do not feel

a need to prove yourself, to explain
the context out of which you speak;

being in your own mind’s ease is easier then.
No fiddling to find the right word

to convey belief in sacramental places
like eddies along a creek’s slow course

or underneath a sycamore’s million leaves.
No need to think you need to craft an argument

for studying the stems of sapling oaks,
for following a hawk that holds itself aloft

along what’s left of some horizon line.
Your own kind knows the things you know.

The way a cedar makes the soil acidic
and how a dogwood often grows nearby.

The way a wren builds decoy nests.
And how the men a generation back

would take it on themselves to stop and mend
a fence because they saw it needed done.

You used to think the mind could hold a truth,
but now you see the mind is like a walnut hull

before the vastness of the sky. The mind
is smaller than it thinks itself to be.

Sometimes you let your own heart be a hymn
nobody else can hear beneath your words.

It wanders like its Lord inside the coolness
of the day, and no one needs to know

to know the knowing it has come to know.
Not your kind, at least, who stand around

and nod agreement at the thing you didn’t say
you didn’t need to say because not saying it

is how you—your kind—sometimes let it say itself.

Jeff Hardin is the author of Fall Sanctuary, recipient of the Nicholas Roerich Prize, and Notes for a Praise Book, selected by Toi Derricotte for the Jacar Press Book Award, as well as Restoring the Narrative and Small Revolution. His poems have been published in The New Republic, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, Hotel Amerika, Southern Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He teaches at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tennessee.

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