Just Off the Road

for James Still

A man who’s old enough has earned the right
to stop the car if, driving past some woods,
the beauty so beguiles him he is drawn
to wander under autumn’s changing leaves.

And even if expected somewhere else
he’ll now be late, we might do well to leave
him to this chance at solitude—so late
in life—forgiving how he turns the car

around and finds a place just off the road
then takes such care no car will come upon
his own and, startled, jerk the wheel. Or worse.

He goes among such quiet selves and bends
to sit among their roots, a wide estate.

He nestles back inside a psalm of time.

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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