By:  Nels Hanson


The absent ring’s white circle

remains long after the bare finger

turns the color of the hand.


For a second where the great

walnut tree stood 90 years

and its high branches reached

far higher than the tall farm house

passing robins hesitate, sensing

a familiar roost, before flying on.


In the drought year on the empty

pond on the farm once ours

we cease rowing to watch

the sapphire kingfisher hover

like a huge hummingbird

before it dives for fingerlings

of the sunfish we planted.


Someone calling through tule fog

last century cries the horse is loose

above the clean snap of shears

as I prune the vine’s dormant canes

for summer’s yellow grapes.


The Christmas presents bought

and wrapped in August and hidden

and forgotten under the bed

dream of a holiday fallen from

a 1965 Great Northern calendar

of a freight train, sure engine

entering the gorge of yellow

aspen through October Rockies.

Nels Hanson grew up on a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California and has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. His poems received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 Best of the Net nominations.