She must have known our voices sounded full

of sorrow, for the cancer had returned,

and this time it would stay until she couldn’t.

Outside the chapel, oak limbs anchored down

the quietest sky all summer, flitting birds

enacting dramas making little sense.

She studied, anyway, their leaps and fidgets,

for everything became a metaphor


for what her cells were doing now. They tripped

upon each other, shook themselves full force.

She must have known we watched her watchful eyes,

and maybe, too, she knew we knew her mind

and where it had to go, interpreting

through what would soon be all there was of her.



Jeff Hardin is the author of five collections of poetry: Fall Sanctuary, Notes for a Praise Book, Restoring the Narrative, and Small Revolution. His work has received the Nicholas Roerich Prize, the Jacar Press Book Award, and the Donald Justice Poetry Prize. Recent and forthcoming poems appear in Southern Review, Chattahoochee Review, Cortland Review, Quiddity, Ruminate, Southern Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest, and many others. His sixth collection, A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being, is forthcoming in fall of 2019.

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