Thomas Hardy in the Dorset County Museum
Turned sideways in a desk chair,
elbow perched on its top rail,
the life-size cardboard Thomas Hardy
looks wary. Even when no one is here
Hardy sits tight, certain something
must take him from happy solitude.
Work is everywhere now, a poem’s
lines whirling in a figure-eight above
his head, chapter one of a novel
looming behind him, rough drafts
of letters under glass at his knee.
Apologizing, knowing he never liked
being touched, I drape my arm over
his shoulder as my wife takes our picture.
He is much younger than I am,
not the sage Hardy with wizened face,
wispy hair and waxed mustache tips.
His beard is darker, thicker, his hair
shorter, but the matching domes
of our foreheads are enough to
let me feel what I have come all
this way to feel. It is time to move on
to the place where he was born.