Chapter 16
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“A Myth that Changes with Every Retelling”

Jeff Hardin is the author of two collections of poetry: Fall Sanctuary, recipient of the Nicholas Roerich Prize, and Notes for a Praise Book. His third collection, Restoring the Narrative, received the Donald Justice Poetry Prize and will be published in 2015. His poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize multiple times and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. He is professor of English at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tennessee.

A Myth that Changes with Every Retelling

You really shouldn’t settle for a boaster such as I.
This could get ugly, and someone might weep,
and how embarrassing for all if it turned out to be me.

My tears are sorry anyway and never did anything good.
The birds can’t bathe in them; the thirsty can’t drink them;
they pollute all the wells and wither the crops.

What pops in my head I can’t take credit for,
so much randomness turned to an order and vice-versa,
yet what can I do when detractors line up with their sticks?

Here’s what I offer instead: the memory of how
I used to leap across leaf piles and make up a song,
believing I soared above entrances to hell.

Then again, what do I know? My memories, like anyone’s,
have turned into myths that change with every retelling.
I open my mouth and some worlds vanish, others begin to appear.